A man shot in an SAS ambush as the Provisional IRA engaged Crown Forces in Coalisland 23 years ago has been convicted of involvement in the attack, and jailed ahead of sentencing -- despite the incident taking place before the Good Friday peace Agreement.
Paul ‘Skunner’ Campbell was convicted of causing an explosion at the town’s RUC station in March 1997. The bomb caused damage to the outer fence, but no injuries. Mr Campbell has denied involvement in the IRA attack. He said he was innocently in the area when the shooting began, and then fled the scene in shock after being struck by gunfire.
Judge David McFarland, delivering his judgment in a Diplock (juryless) court in Belfast, dismissed Mr Campbell’s defence, which he claimed was “concocted to fit the prosecution case”. He said that he was “sure” that Mr Campbell was assisting IRA Volunteer Gareth Doris, who was shot and captured at the scene.
Mr Campbell was ordered held without bail. He is to be sentenced on February 26 next following the presentation of pre-sentence reports.
Refusing bail to the father-of-four, McFarland told him that a prison sentence was inevitable and that there was “no reason why he should not start serving it now”.
The conviction continues a pattern of imprisonment of those republicans facing historical charges arising from the conflict, while British soldiers facing prosecution for numbers of killings have so far avoided spending even a day behind bars.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson again vowed this week to legislate to prevent what he described as “unfair prosecutions”, meaning those taken against British soldiers. He said the British government will legislate to make sure no-one (who served in the British Army) suffers “vexatious or unfair prosecution” for historic cases.
Mr Johnson told MPs during Prime Minister’s Questions that, in light of the deal to restore power-sharing at Stormont, “nothing in the agreement, I want to reassure the House, will stop us from going ahead with legislation”.