Irish Republican News · February 8, 2008
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Low copy justice for Strabane men
Low copy justice for Strabane men

A County Tyrone republican has been ‘interned’ despite being cleared of attempted murder charges this week.

John Brady, from Strabane, had been due to go on trial charged with attempting to kill a part-time British soldier in 2002.

Brady is thought to be the north’s longest-serving remand prisoner, having spent four years awaiting trial. He was originally released from Long Kesh prison in 1998 under the Good Friday Agreement’s early-release scheme.

His case came to an abrupt halt on Wednesday after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced it was dropping all charges. The CPS had again been due to rely on low copy number DNA (LCN DNA) evidence.

Despite the collapse of the trial Brady is to remain behind bars.

In October 2006, his trial judge ordered that Brady should serve a minimum 15 years of his original life sentence before his case could be examined by the Life Sentence Review Board.

Brady was returned to jail on foot of this judgement. His lawyer, Peter Corrigan of the Kevin Winters firm, called for the immediate release of his client.

“John Brady has served the equivalent of 17 Christmases in prison and has already served more than the maximum tariff set down by the lord chief justice,” he said.

“We are calling on the secretary of state to release him immediately and will be making the strongest representations to both Shaun Woodward and the Life Sentence Review Board.

“My client’s licence was only revoked on the basis of highly dubious LCN DNA.

“That has now been totally discredited and he should be released immediately.”

PROSECUTION ABANDONED

Meanwhile, a Strabane teenager who was arrested when he was 16 is to sue PSNI Chief Hugh Orde for malicious prosecution after a controversial bomb trial dramatically collapsed yesterday without explanation.

Barrie Devine, now 18, walked free from Belfast Crown Court after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced it was withdrawing charges linking him to a firebomb planted in a County Tyrone supermarket in January 2005.

Mr Devine was arrested nine months later and charged with planting the bomb at the Safeway store.

The prosecution claimed that forensic tests had identified Mr Devine’s DNA on sellotape found inside the firebomb.

Mr Devine insisted during police questioning that there was an innocent explanation for his DNA being identified as he worked part-time in Safeway and regularly used sellotape as part of his job.

He spent eight months on remand at a young offenders centre before being granted bail in May 2006.

It later emerged that the evidence against Mr Devine was based solely on the discredited Low Copy Number (LCN) DNA testing.

However, a Crown barrister yesterday announced that the CPS had now decided not to proceed with the case.

Speaking outside the court yesterday Mr Devine criticised the fact that the only evidence against him had been LCN DNA.

“I spent eight months on remand and abandoned a business course I was doing at college,” he said.

“This thing has been hanging over me and my family for two and a half years and meant that I couldn’t go to university.”

Pointing out that there was never any evidence to link him to the bomb, Mr Devine said: “From the very beginning I gave a legitimate explanation as to why my DNA would have been found on sellotape used in the store.

“It wasn’t until months after I was charged that we found out the prosecution was relying solely on LCN DNA.

“I am disgusted that the PPS held this over me for nearly three years and then suddenly announced it was dropping all charges without even an apology or an explanation.”

© 2008 Irish Republican News