TWO men wrongly convicted of killing Constable Stephen Carroll have called on the director of public prosecutions to investigate the disapperance of information from a security force tracking device in their case.
The calls comes days after director of public prosecution Barra McGrory asked the RUC/PSNI to carry out a full investigation into the destruction of evidence connected to the RUC killing of Co Armagh teenager Michael Tighe in 1982. The 17-year-old was shot dead in a hayshed by the SAS which was under security force surveillance near Lurgan in Co Armagh in an (so-called) shoot-to-kill operation. It later emerged that a senior RUC officer had ordered the desruction of an audio recording of the incident. A second recording of the incident held by MI5 was subsequently destroyed. Co Armagh man Martin McCauley, who was with Michael Tighe in the hayshed, was later convicted of the possession of three rifles found in the building but was acquitted (found innocent) on appeal last year. Details of the tape recordings were not revealed to the court at the original trial. Concerns raised by the judge about the concealment and destruction of potential evidence prompted (director of public prosecution) Mr Barra McGrory’s recent intervention. Both the RUC/PSNI and Police Ombudsman investigating the case. In a letter to The Irish News on Friday The Craigavon Two Brendan (Yandy) McConville and John Paul Wootton claim their case has “glaring parallels” with that of Michael Tighe. Both men are serving lengthy prison terms after they were wrongly convicted of killing Constable Carroll (48) in a (CIRA) Continuity IRA sniper attack in Craigavon in March 2009. During the trial it emerged that data recorded on a tracking device placed on Wootton’s car by the British army was later wiped. They write: “Mr McGroy’s express concern that the case of Michael Tighe could potentially undermine the credibility of the Public Prosecution Service could equally apply to our case,” they said. “How can Mr McGrory attach such significance to the wiping of evidence in the Tighe case while at the same time ignoring similar misconduct in our our case.” And they ask: “Is Mr McGrory prepared to accept that justice in our case was similarly perverted?” Co Wexford independent TD Mick Wallace raised the issue in the Dail earlier this week saying “questions must be asked in regard to what data was deleted from the device and why.” One can assume that if the evidence corroborated the apparent guilt of Wootton, it would be produced in court rather than deleted,” he said. A spokeswoman for the PPS said: “It is entirely wrong to claim that there any legal similarites relating to survillance evidence in these cases.” She said in the McConville/Wootton case the “deletion of material” from a tracking device was heard in court and the defence were able to challenge its “admissibility and evidential value.” “This contrasts with the quashing of the conviction of Martin McCauley by the Court of Appeal after the uncovering of information that relevant recordings [had] been withheld from the courts and the director of prosecutions and then later destroyed. “In his judgement the lord chief justice said it was “at least arguable that the destruction amounted to a perversion of the course of justice”.
With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News, for the orgional story.
The origional letter which appeared in The Irish News on Friday January 23 2015
WE ACKNOWLEDGE with interest the Decision by the the Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory, to investigate the circumstances surrounding the murder of Michael Tighe by the RUC in 1982.
This was clearly a case of injustice in which vital evidence (a recording device) was destroyed. It be difficult to ignore the glaring paralles that exist between this case and our own with the regard to the destruction of key evidence. This is especially so given the conclusion of the company responsible for manufacturing the device which contributed to our wrongful convictions. At the trial he stated that the wiping of data “would not have been something that could have happened accidentally”. Mr McGrory’s express concern that the case of Michael Tighe could potentially undermine the credibility of the Public Prosecution Service could equally apply to our case. How can Mr McGrory attach such signiificance to the wiping of evidence in the Tighe case while at the same time ignoring similar misconduct in our case? In denying the truth Mr McGory’s predecessors withheld justice from the family of Michael Tighe for more than 30 years. Is Mr McGrory prepared to accept that justice was similarly perverted?
Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton (The Craigavon Two) Maghaberry Prison, Co Antrim.