Apologies for the length of the post title, but I wanted to make sure I had included everyone… A 25-year-old Queen’s University politics guaduate walked free from Belfast Crown Court today after the prosecution offered no evidence on charges relating to the fire-bombing of Toys R Us Boucher Road store on 1 November 2006.
As the UTV report reveals, it’s not necessarily the end of the story
However, the Belfast Recorder has agreed to hear secret legal submissions behind closed doors, from both the defence and prosecution and interested “third parties“ before deciding whether or not the reason behind the PPS’s decision should be made public. [added emphasis]
Earlier the judge directed a jury of seven women and five men to formally acquitted Craig of the charges.
Afterwards defence QC Greg Berry, who only hinted at the reason behind the prosecution’s mysterious decision, said Craig and his defence team wanted to publically expose the reason to drop the case.
Apparently the reason is contained in a “letter …. dealing with confidential information“, which at this stage cant be made public.
Mr Berry said the matter identified had come about following what he described as a “fairly tortuous disclosure process” whereby the prosecution is bound to provide information to the defence.
Judge Burgess, who agreed to hold the ‘in camera’ hearing next month, following the mid-term break, said that “unless and until an order is made by the court that information …. remains cloaked in confidentiality“.
Compared to the QC, afterwards the defendant’s solicitor was less reticent
Niall Murphy, of Kevin Winters and Company, said: “When our client made his defence in crown court by means of a defence statement, he made a very particular defence.
“The defence was that he insisted that another individual, who cannot be named for legal reasons, commissioned, prepared and instigated this attack for which our client was charged.
“Our client has always maintained that the other individual is an agent of the British security services who has deliberately attempted to frame our client for this crime and worryingly therefore this raises the spectre of state-sponsored terrorism.”
When asked if he was alleging that Anton Craig had been set up by the security services, he said: “Absolutely, our client made a very explicit defence in his statement in the crown court which set out his contention that he had been the victim of a state agent who had specifically framed him for the offence for which he was charged.”