Given the machinations of both the British and Irish governments over the UDA in recent times the apparent flexing of the judiciary’s independence muscle, in a to-be-replaced Diplock [non-jury] court, is probably worth paying attention to. On Tuesday Mr Justice McLaughlin ruled that “[He] could not properly convict the accused of the murder of Alan McCullough”, which has been attributed to the UDA, and added “In addition the prosecution case is highly deficient in establishing that the defendant was part of a common design to kill the deceased.” Following consultation with the DPP the prosecutor appealed and today, while refusing the application, Mr Justice McLaughlin accepted that the prosecution was free to put its case before the three Appeal Court judges.
From today’s BBC report
As Mr Courtney was freed on his own bail of £100 on Thursday, the judge said he had been thrust into a difficult position after ruling that the evidence was not strong enough to convict him.
“I have made it clear that the ruling I gave two days ago was not intended to be a detailed analysis of all the evidence,” he said.
“It purports to be nothing more than an analysis of certain portions of evidence which, in my opinion, left such gaps in the prosecution case that I had to come to the conclusion there were no circumstances in which I could properly convict.
“The prosecution now invites me to allow them to appeal that conclusion.
“It seems to me there’s something of a conflict between me having reached that decision and now saying there is no arguable case to grant leave.
“I’m not very happy that the prosecution has established the basis upon which it should be given leave (to appeal).”