UTV News & Christy Walsh.com – 2010-12-10 23:12:43
Cleared Christy Walsh Slams PPS
Cleared Christy Walsh Slams PPS
ULSTER, Ireland (March 10, 2010) — Following an unprecedented third appeal, senior judges ruled that the guilty verdict against Christy Walsh was unsafe. The Court of Appeal declared unease about the safety of the conviction due to issues around the lack of fingerprint evidence and a soldier’s statement.
After the hearing, Mr Walsh, 46, severely criticised the Public Prosecution Service for obstructing his case. “I think they still have a lot of information that I and my lawyers don’t know about and it’s questionable if we will ever know about it”, he told UTV.
“They blocked me every step of the way in trying to get material. I have now got possession of serious and incriminating material on the PPS. It’s in the hands of my lawyers. I gathered it at the end of my appeal last Tuesday and that is going to be explored and I think the PPS will be in a lot of hot water when things are revealed.”
Mr Walsh served a 14-year prison sentence for a coffee-jar bomb he was said to have when stopped by soldiers in 1991.
His trial heard he took a glass jar containing semtex from his pocket, which he was told to place on a low wall during his arrest at Lenadoon, west Belfast. Walsh, a painter and decorator now based in Jordanstown, has campaigned ever since to try to prove there was a miscarriage of justice, continuing his legal battle despite losing two earlier legal challenges.
His lawyers advanced a number of grounds on which they claimed the conviction should be quashed. These included the non-disclosure of information about a top IRA man arrested in the area on the same day as him. It was argued this senior, unidentified, paramilitary could have been responsible for the device.
Testimony given by military witnesses was also criticised as inconsistent and unreliable, while evidence at trial on the lack of fingerprints in the case was ridiculed as “complete nonsense.”
Walsh’s legal team called their own independent expert as part of their appeal. Allan Bayle, a forensic scene examiner with the Metropolitan Police for more than 20 years, told the hearing it would be expected to find prints if someone had handled a device.
Ruling on the appeal, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, sitting with Lord Justice Girvan and Mr Justice McCloskey, held that evidence on the fingerprints appeared to have misled the original court, although not deliberately.
Sir Declan said: “The fresh evidence indicated a strong likelihood that if the coffee jar had been handled by the appellant as alleged a fingerprint would have been detectable immediately thereafter. “It was also clear, however, that the forensic bagging techniques used at that time raised the possibility that any such fingerprint would have been lost in transfer.”
Sir Declan added fresh evidence about the prints might have impacted on this view, while a second statement from one of the soldiers may have affected the evaluation of his reliability. “For those reasons we are left with a significant sense of unease about the safety of this verdict,” the judge said.
Drawing comparisons with other high-profile cases, Mr Walsh said: “Like the Thomas Devlin family, like the Robert Hamill family, the prosecution have obstructed and prevented me from getting justice before now. “It is generally accepted that I won this case a long time ago. This morning was just a formality in getting it officially sanctioned.”
Mr Walsh’s lawyer, Kevin Winters, insisted 20 years was an unacceptably long time to wait for justice. “Prosecuting authorities missed a number of chances many years ago to remedy what has long since amounted to a serious miscarriage of justice and to that end Mr Walsh will now be seeking compensation for the 14 years he spent in jail for a crime he did not commit,” he said.
In a statement, the PPS said Mr Walsh’s comments were an example of a misunderstanding of the proper role of the prosecution within the criminal justice system. It said the prosecution had acted with complete propriety at all times in relation to the case.
I was stopped by a single Paratrooper soldier at about 1.40pm on 5 June 1991 as I walked through the linking alleyway between Suffolk Road and Kerrykeel Gardens, Belfast.
The Crown alleged that Corporal Blacklock had stopped me and ordered me to remove my hands from my pockets, and when I did so, it was alleged that I produced from my pocket with my right ungloved hand a glass coffee-jar bomb.
Corporal Blacklock then claimed that he instructed me to place the bomb on a low brick wall to my right hand side of the alleyway. Nine months after my arrest a second Soldier was then said to have observed the Corporal stop and instruct me to remove the jar from my pocket and place it on the wall.
Despite all the forensic evidence overwhelmingly supporting my innocence the Trial Judge stated that, “the forensic evidence did not assist the Crown.” In doing so he reduced the case to that of my word against the word of the two main prosecution witnesses.
In March 2000, the Criminal Cases Review Commission referred my case back to the Court of Appeal on grounds of the Soldiers new statements and additional other new evidence. Under the Criminal Appeal Act the CCRC can only make a referral if it believes a conviction is unsafe.
In 1998 both soldiers were re-interviewed by Sir Jeff Hunt of the London Metropolitan Police on behalf of Sir Ronnie Flanagan, former Chief Constable of the RUC. This was done in accordance with the Criminal Appeal Act. Private Boyce retracted his trial testimony after it was established to be false. Both soldiers disclosed that they had been ‘coached’ prior to my trial.
The Court of Appeal in 2002 refused to consider the soldiers new statements on grounds that it was improper for ‘defence solicitors’ to have re-interviewed them. This was in disregard to the Criminal Appeal Act. The Soldiers new statements have gone unconsidered by any appeal court and so remain relevant and available.
In January 2007, the Court of Appeal ruled that this evidence had been dismissed “out of hand” by the earlier court. Private Boyce has refused the current Appeal Courts’ recent request that he come before it and explain himself. My case is currently awaiting a fresh appeal.
In January 2002, the Criminal Appeal Court handed down its Judgment referring to the CCRC as “defence solicitors” the Court stated that it would not consider the Soldiers new statements thus removing a major part of my defence.
Additional New Evidence:
On 2nd February 2009, it was discovered that another man (described as a “top IRA man” by Dr Griffin) had been arrested in connection to the coffee jar device. This man was arrested 15 minutes before I arrived at the scene establishing that I could not have had the device in my pocket. The device was at the scene before my arrival(Note: there is no actual incrimating evidence against this other man).
However, shortly after my arrest, and before allegations that I had had the jar in my coat pocket, an RUC officer (Adrian Smith, extension 25761) asked Dr Griffin to measure my coat pockets to see if the jar would fit in any? Dr Griffin confirmed that it would. The other man was released and his presence at the scene also was concealed from me for almost 18 years.
It should be noted, however, that this other man may also have been unconnected to the device; his significance is proof that the device was at the scene at least 15 minutes before I was.
This evidence comes on top of other fresh facts; among them that two other Forensic Experts gave false testimony in attempt to bolster the case against me.
Further, in order to convict me, the Trial Judge drew an adverse inference against me for remaining silent while under interrogation after my arrest.
In 2001, the Court of Appeal was presented with copies of my signed statements made while under interrogation which compelled the Court to find that the Trial Judge was not “justified” for his ‘main criticism’ and basis for convicting me.
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED KINGDOM IN THE MATTER OF AN APPLICATION BY JOHN CHRISTOPHER WALSH FOR LEAVE TO APPLY FOR THE COURT’S PROTECTION AND INTERVENTION. AGAINST DECISIONS MADE BY THE NORTHERN IRELAND MINISTER OF JUSTICE WHICH;
1) BREACH HIS DEVOLVED POWERS UNDER THE NORTHERN IRELAND ACT 1998.
2) USURP THE ROLE OF THE NORTHERN IRELAND COURT OF APPEAL.
3) FAIL TO ENSURE PROPER INVESTIGATION INTO SERIOUS CRIMINAL CONDUCT WITHIN THE NORTHERN IRELAND LEGAL SYSTEM.
1) This is an application for the Supreme Court to provide me with protection and relief from the Northern Ireland Assembly, and specifically, the Minister for Justice, David Ford, MLAâ€™s, breach of devolved powers under the Northern Ireland Act 1998.
2) I ask that the Supreme Court intervene directly because the Justice Minister has usurped the role of the Northern Ireland Courts.
3) The NI Justice Minister has taken upon himself the role of the Judiciary to determine me to be guilty where the NI Court of Appeal and due process have not.
4) I appeal to the Supreme Court to reaffirm the jurisdiction and function of the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal.
5) The Justice Minister has disregarded the NI Appeal Courtâ€™s finding that, â€œWe bear in mind that the appellant is a person of previous good character. It is on that basis that we allow this appeal.â€ R v Walsh  NICA 7
6) After my wrongful conviction was reversed a review had been conducted and concluded, in July 2010, that â€œMr Walsh’s convictions were, we believe, “reversed” within the meaning of section 133, by the decision of the Court of Appeal on 16 March 2010.â€
7) Regardless, a decision was made to revive the collapsed prosecution case against me and reaffirm my guilt based upon no evidence which stood up in court. I attach (1) copy of my sworn affidavit, which may assist the Supreme Court in further understanding the Justice Ministerâ€™s abuse of power.
8) The Minister holds no jurisdiction to retry my case; he is incapable of observing the criminal standard of guilt of beyond reasonable doubt that only a constitutionally convened court can provide.
9) At the close of my Appeal Hearing, in March 2010, I took from the NI Appeal Court a file belonging to Crown Prosecutor, Gary McCrudden and I still have it in my possession. My defense for having committed an act of theft from a courtroom is one of just cause.
10) There is indelible evidence that a Crown Prosecutor was involved in serious criminal activity. There exists relevant and available evidence of â€˜coachingâ€™, of lies being told, of fabrications and manipulations of evidence, of perjury before the court, for purpose of wilful intent, by the Crown Prosecutor, to pervert the course of justice.
11) I have made myself available for any criminal investigation into what I have done. I remain prepared to return to Belfast to assist police in any criminal investigation. I have endeavoured to disclose my evidence in open court but my attempts have been frustrated.
12) I attach copy of my sworn affidavit1 which I originally lodged with the NI Court Services and which may be of some assistance to the Court in this application.
I have a book of evidence which accompanies my affidavit but I am unable to forward copy to the court at this time. I ask that the Supreme Court consider allowing me to submit my book of evidence electronically because I have not got the money to publish and post duplicate copies.
13) I have made attempt to gain access to justice within the NI Courtâ€™s but years of investing in attempt to clear my name have left me financially ruined.
14) I copy this application to the Lord Chief Justice of NI as I have not made application to him to apply to the Supreme Court out of any disrespect to the NI Courts.
My understanding is that if I were dissatisfied with his Judgment handed down on 16th March 2010 that I need ask his permission to appeal to the Supreme Court; it is for that reason that I have thought it inappropriate to make such a request but appropriate that I inform him.
(1) Signed original is with the NI Court Services
For more information, contact Christy Walsh at http://www.christywalsh.com