The family of former Sinn Fein councillor Brendan McConville has called for the Stormont administration to recognise a miscarriage of justice following his recent conviction for a Continuity IRA attack three years ago.
“I would like the politicians and the justice minister to please just take the time to read through the evidence to see just what Brendan was convicted on,” said his mother, Eileen McConville.
“They had to get someone for the murder and he was the first person that came to hand.”
Lawyer Peter Corrigan of Kevin Winters and Co. confirmed this week that he is preparing an appeal of the judgment.
Mr McConville was sentenced to 25 years for the Craigavon gun attack in March 2009, in which a member of the PSNI was killed. Local youth John Paul Wootton was sentenced to 14 years in jail, even though he was just 17 at the time of the attack.
The judge, sitting in the absence of a jury, based his guilty verdict partly on the two men’s silence -- the traditional republican refusal to recognise British jurisdiction in Ireland.
The court was originally told that a special British Army intelligence unit had attached a tracking system to Wootton’s car prior to the shooting.
The prosecution argued thatthis showed the vehicle was close to the scene at the time of the murder.
However, it later emerged that the tracking device had been “wiped” and that key data from the device had disappeared. Three British soldiers gave evidenceanonymously, but failed to explain how the data was deleted from the device.
The murder trial also heardidentification evidence from a witness known only as ‘M’, who has since gone into a witness protection programme.
“We had never heard tell of him before that day,” Mrs McConvillesaid.
“Brenden never knew him, had never met him.
“He said he knew Brendan from he was a nipper but that couldn’t be right because we never even lived in Craigavon when he was young.
“He’s not even his age. He wasn’t in school with him or anything.
“You just have to hope that the appeal court judges will be fair and go on the evidence in front of them.”
Mrs McConville called on human rights organisations and international justice groups to take time to read through the evidence thatwas presented at her son’s non-jury trial.
“If it was my loved one or family member I would like to think that the person who did it would be locked up rather than an innocent person be convicted.
“We know Brendan didn’t do it and that’s not justice, not for Mrs Carroll or anyone else.”
She added: “People only see a fraction of what is report ifthere had of been a jury trial it would have been thrown out it would never have even made it as far as it did.”