A well-known republican interrogated by the PSNI has been dramatically cleared of explosives charges after Crown prosecutors admitted they had no evidence to present.
Declan McGlinchey, son of INLA leader Dominic McGlinchey, was found not guilty of four charges relating to making and possessing a bomb after the prosecution admitted its low-copy DNA evidence was “insufficient”.
The Bellaghy man was acquitted of the charges by Mr Justice John Gillen at Belfast High Court.
The charges related to the discovery of a bomb in July 2006.
The prosecution had been relying on what it said was DNA evidence found on a piece of tape connected to the explosives.
However, when McGlinchey appeared in court to apply for a variation in his bail conditions, prosecutors told the judge they had abandoned the case. They said their decision had been made “upon consultation with the forensics witness”.
Lawyers for Mr McGlinchey said “the weakness of the case” was clear from the beginning.
“The evidence has not changed a single iota (since he was charged in October 2006), yet the PPS saw fit to sustain the prosecution for a further three years before deciding to withdraw the charges,” Niall Murphy of Kevin Winters & Co said.
He said evidence based on all forms of low template DNA were “now dead... and not sufficient for prosecution purposes”.
The DNA forensics found on the tape was the sole evidence in the case.
Declan McGlinchey and his brother were arrested in March along with Lurgan republican Colin Duffy in connection with the ‘Real IRA’ attack on a British Army base, in which two soldiers were killed. Although the McGlinchey brother were later released without charge, both Colin Duffy and another man, Brian Shivers, remain behind bars.
Following the announcement, Danny McBrearty, speaking on behalf of the Republican Network for Unity, said the crown’s action raised serious questions about other high profile DNA cases which have collapsed during trial or discovery “and most importantly pending high profile DNA cases against Colin Duffy or Brian Shivers”.
“Mr McGlinchey’s case is merely the latest in a series failed prosecutions based upon discredited DNA evidence to collapse. The trial of Sean Hoey collapsed after a trial in which there seemed to be strong evidence that evidence had been planted, fabricated or otherwise contaminated.”
“The charges against Mark Carroll and Martin Brogan were dismissed after his solicitors’ unearthed documents showing attempts at tampering with evidence and falsification of results.”
“Now after three years, a consultation with a forensics witness who presumably was available before charges were brought in 2006 has forced the crown to concede that there was never any credible evidence against Mr McGlinchey.”
“Why has it taken three years for the problems with the DNA evidence to surface? Are these weaknesses also relevant to the pending cases of Colin Duffy or Brian Shivers? Are there issues of planting or contamination of evidence either by witnesses or in the lab which should disclosed to the defence as a matter of justice?
“Will Colin Duffy and Brian Shivers have to wait three years only to be told that there was never a case against them as today happened to Declan McGlinchey?”