End of a Nightmare
After about two-and-a-half years imprisonment in English jails, the Winchester Three - Martina Shanahan, Finbar Cullen and John McCann, jailed for 25 years in October 1988 on vague conspiracy charges - were set free by the Court of Appeal in London on Friday 27 April.
Counsel for the three Dubliners had sought leave to appeal against their original convictions in a four-day application at the start of April and it was agreed that in the event of this succeeding, the appeal application should be regarded as the appeal hearing itself.
All seemed doomed for the Three's case as the court rejected the first two of the three grounds of their appeal.
These firstly, that the trial judge should have discharged the jury as they had been vetted by the Special Branch and secondly, that there was evidence to warrant a conviction for conpiracy to murder.
But the court accepted the third ground of appeal and quashed the convictions after ruling that the original verdicts of guilty were unsafe because a fair trial was impossible considering former Six-County Direct Ruler Tom King's televised outburst regarding a defendant's right to silence in the North.
Phoblacht, Thursday 3 May 1990