Irish Republican News · May 21, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Diplock ruling overturned

Derry Republican Charlie McMenamin has walked free from court 27 years after he was wrongly convicted.

In 1978, Charlie was convicted of ‘terrorist offences’ in Derry and was in custody for three years. But his case was referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, the body set up to investigate possible miscarriages of justice.

On Thursday, Lord Justice Campbell said he and two fellow judges had a sense of unease about the convictions and upheld the appeal.

Outside the court Charlie, now aged 45, who lives in the Creggan area of Derry, said he was delighted not only for himself but also for his mother who had believed in his innocence all along.

He said:

“Down the years my mother encouraged me to keep trying to clear my name and now it`s been done.”

Mr McMenamin`s wife Catherine was in court to hear the three judges quash his convictions.

As a sixteen year old boy, Charlie was arrested by the RUC and taken to Strand Road Interrogation Centre where a confession was forced out of him.

Under pressure from the judicial system Charlie McMenamin had no option but to plead guilty to lesser charges due to duress that he was going to jail for 25 years for something that he was completely innocent of. As a result of this confession Charlie McMenamin served 3 years in jail.

Apart from the jail sentence Charlie also accrued a ‘criminal record’ which has hindered him in finding meaningful employment as well as the other impediments that having a ‘criminal record’ brings.

Throughout this time Charlie maintained his innocence and he fought to clear his name.

During the hearing it was revealed that on the day the then schoolboy was alleged to have been involved in a gun attack on British soldiers in the Bogside he was in a training school.

That information led to an official in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions telling the RUC that the charges were not to be proceeded with. But the court heard the direction was never communicated to the prosecuting lawyer and the teenager was “convicted on statements of admission he made to avoid more ill-treatment while in Strand Road police station”.

Sinn Féin Assembly member Raymond McCartney welcomed the decision.

“Today is a vindication of Charlie campaign to have this stain removed from his record and I would congratulate him for his perseverance.

“This is another case that highlights the injustices of the Diplock system that operated for law in the Six Counties. In recent weeks I have spoken to a number of people whose cases bear similar hallmarks of Charlie McMenamin case. They have been in contact with their solicitors and I have no doubt that their convictions are unsafe and that they will be quashed in due course. Many young men and women went to jail for offences that they had nothing to do with and I would appeal to those people to contact their solicitors with a view to having their convictions challenged today.

“It is important that as we move into a new dispensation that this type of policing and judicial system is consigned to history and that the present system is made totally transparent and accountable.”

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© 2007 Irish Republican News