News Roundup Week Ending 28 June
By Charlotte Rowles on 26/06/14Share:
21 June 2014
The Belfast Telegraph reports on the death of a victim and tireless campaigner for justice.
Gerry Conlon, wrongly convicted of Guildford pub bombings, dies in Belfast aged 60.
Mr Conlan, who was 60 and had been ill for some time, died this morning at his home off the Falls Road in west Belfast.
The Guildford Four — Gerry Conlon, Paul Hill, Carole Richardson and Paddy Armstrong — were jailed for life in 1975 for an IRA bombing campaign which killed five people and injured 65.Mr Conlon's father, Giuseppe, was jailed later that year. He died in prison five years later.Giuseppe was jailed as part of a discredited investigation into a supposed bomb making family - the Maguire Seven.
Giuseppe had one lung, and emphysema and had just undergone chemotherapy. His mother Sarah, a tireless campaigner for their freedom, died in 2008, aged 82.
In a statement Mr Conlon's family said: "This morning we lost our Gerry. He brought life, love, intelligence, wit and strength to our family through its darkest hours.
"He helped us to survive what we were not meant to survive."We recognise that what he achieved by fighting for justice for us had a far, far greater importance - it forced the world's closed eyes to be opened to injustice... we believe it changed the course of history.
Alex Attwood, SDLP MLA for West Belfast said:"On my own behalf and that of the SDLP, I extend deep sympathy to Gerry's partner and his family. May he rest in peace with his late parents.
"He was a big character. Gerry made a big and lasting impression on all those he met. He had a great resilience, an incredible warmth and a huge heart. "He also had a deep commitment to justice and democracy. He stood with all those who had been denied their rights and suffered wrong. "The miscarriage of justice perpetrated against him, his dad and his friends was shocking. The campaign of Gerry and others concentrated a spotlight on the wrongs of the State like never before. His eventual release was very significant in itself, was also a catalyst for campaigns against other miscarriages of justice.
"Gerry will be missed as a person and missed for the vigor and support he brought to other campaigns for justice. His death at 60 years of age is far too young for someone who had suffered far too much, who had then given so much and had so much more to give”.
Mr Conlon's case was highlighted in the 1993 Oscar-nominated film In The Name Of The Father, starring Daniel Day-Lewis.
"Gerry and his father Giuseppe were two of the most infamous examples of miscarriages of justice by the British political and judicial system," Mr Adams said. "Their story was told graphically in the film In The Name Of The Father. To his family and friends I want to extend my sincere condolences."
In 2009 Mr Conlon wrote about the personal and emotional battles he suffered as a result of his incarceration and fight for freedom. He suffered two breakdowns, attempted suicide and became addicted to drugs and alcohol following his release.
"The ordeal has never left me," he said.
Miscarriage of justice
The jailing of Conlon and the other members of the Guildford Four - Paddy Armstrong, Paul Hill and Carole Richardson - is considered the biggest miscarriage of justice in British legal history.
An investigation by Avon and Somerset Police found serious flaws in the way Surrey Police handled the case.
As he emerged free from the Court of Appeal Gerry Conlon declared: "I have been in prison for something I did not do. I am totally innocent."
Speaking at the University of Limerick earlier this year, Mr Hill said: "If what happened to us meant that no other innocent people were going to go to jail, in some way we could accept it – but unfortunately, it's not that way.
"We need accountability, we need transparency and we need accessibility to the judiciary and they need – when things go wrong – to be told the truth."
Although the scandals of the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six cases have been known for more than 30 years, they have been denied full access to the entire case files.
"We are the only two cases in British criminal history where the Official Secrets Act has been applied. It was recommended that our cases be held under the Official Secrets Act for 75 years. That's longer than the secrets from the Second World War."
23rd June 2014
Jasmin McDermott reports on developments in fingerprinting for the Police Oracle.
Historical assumptions over fingerprint longevity could lead to miscarriages of justice as new research reveals marks can last for more than two years on certain surfaces.
Experiments by fingerprint scientist Simon Bunter challenge widely accepted assumptions that a mark recovered at a crime scene was more likely to have been placed recently by conducting experiments with different surfaces and "common" substances.
The results, which vary significantly, reveal that fingerprints placed into oils from sausage and chips and linseed oil are clearly visible, even before the applying aluminium powder, up to two-and-a-half years after they were deposited onto a piece of glass. These marks had also endured various environmental conditions during both summer and winter months.
In an interview with PoliceOracle.com Mr Bunter, who started his career as a fingerprint trainee at North Yorkshire Police, said that crime scene investigators and fingerprint officers should base their judgement on experience and research, rather than assumption.
"The experiments show that fingerprints can actually persist for quite a while. It was quite surprising that even after two-and-a-half years that a mark was visible on glass and had persisted in UK weather."
Assumptions regarding fingerprint longevity suggest the good quality and clarity of the mark is an indicator that is has suffered little deterioration or damage and therefore existed for only a short period of time. Another reasoning is that if a powdering technique lifts a clear mark, the mark must be "fresh" because it has not "washed away" by rain or subject to other weather conditions.
Results showed that several of the marks were of very good quality and were identifiable and that the powder adhered to them quickly and easily.
In one case, a man was charged with the burglary of his former rugby club clubhouse. Several of his fingerprints were recovered from an internal door but he insisted he had not visited the building for four years. It was also disclosed that the door had been re-painted 18 months prior to the burglary and washed several times.
However, examinations by Mr Bunter revealed that the marks were formed in a layer of yellow paint applied years before the door was re-painted but continued to be visible through the recent layer of paint. Court proceedings were subsequently scrapped following this discovery. Mr Bunter said that to assume a mark is fresh without the backing of scientific reasoning could provide a false evaluation of the evidence which might mislead a court.
He added: "The aging of fingerprints is not simple and is not based on a formula.
"I would like to see more studies around this particular area and for people to be more proactive in looking at the matrix and dynamics of the environment. "Never assume anything because it can lead to miscarriages of justice.
"I hope that people take notice of this and that the research raises awareness of the issues because not all fingerprints are easily removed.
20 June 2014
The Guardian’s legal affairs correspondent, Owen Boycott writes about the controversial fraud trial affected by legal aid cuts.
Earlier this year Judge Anthony Leonard QC at Southwark crown court ruled that a land bank fraud trial, R v Crawley and others, should be halted because barristers were boycotting what are known as very high cost cases cases. The defendants would consequently be unrepresented, he said, and could not receive a fair trial.
The fraud case, which is being prosecuted by the Financial Conduct Authority, has been split into two trials the first of which is due to start in January.