“and every other right-thinking member of the Northern Ireland community..”

Some of the reaction to today’s judgement in the case against Sean Hoey – As recorded here and here and here and some of the families’ reaction here. Also worth noting is Mark Devenport’s impression of the police’s immediate reaction outside the courts. The judgement by Mr Justice Weir is available here.

[65] I am acutely aware that the stricken people of Omagh and every other right-thinking member of the Northern Ireland community would very much wish to see whoever was responsible for the outrageous events of August 1998 and the other serious crimes in this series of terrorist incidents convicted and punished for their crimes according to law. But I also bear firmly in mind the cardinal principle of the criminal law which, in delivering the judgment of the Court of Appeal in R. v Steenson and others [1986] NIJB17 at page 36, Lord Lowry LCJ re-emphasised in his concluding observations:

“Justice ‘according to law’ demands proper evidence. By that we mean not merely evidence which might be true and to a considerable extent probably is true, but, as the learned trial judge put it, “evidence which is so convincing in truth and manifestly reliable that it reaches the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt.”

The evidence against the accused in this case did not reach that immutable standard. Accordingly I find Mr Hoey not guilty on each of the remaining counts on the indictment.

It’s also worth noting, in particular, the response from Victor Barker – as noted here.

English lawyer Victor Barker, whose son, James, died in the attack, said: “It is the appalling inefficiency of Sir Ronnie Flanagan that has meant Chief Superintendent Baxter has not been able to secure a conviction.”

He said the initial investigation by Sir Ronnie had been deeply flawed.

Mr Barker added: “He said he would fall on his sword if anything was wrong with this investigation — I will give him the sword.”

Mr Barker, who attended the court with his wife and 13-year-old son, Oliver, said they were “very disappointed” at the judge’s decision which had to be based on the evidence put before him.

But he added: “It is my view and the view of my family that Sean Hoey was one of the conspirators involved in the Omagh bomb — we can’t prove it.”

He said that, as a lawyer, he accepted the legal system was there to protect the human rights of people such as Sean Hoey and he had to stand by it.

“It is only a great shame that my son and the 29 people who died in Omagh has no human rights at all.”

, , , , ,

  • Mark McGregor

    The inability of the PSNI, at all levels, to take any interviews is telling. Former head, current head, the Federation and even a spokesperson only willing to make a brief statement with no questions is telling.

    They as an an organisation are firmly in the dock after today and what do they do? Pull down the shutters.

    Their actions after being exposed as abusers of due process emphasise their abuse of due process.

    Fortunately they can’t hide their corporate willingness to stitch a guy up for 30 odd life sentences and unwillingness to take a solitary question on same.

  • Mark McGregor

    And I’d like to see a review, while not expecting one, of any cases that the two main PSNI protagonists in this abuse of due process have been involved in.

    How many did they send down through lies before they were exposed?

  • cut the bull

    the refusal of Norman Baxter to answer questions put to him by Laurence Rush, who lost his wife in the bombing and journalist, in relation to lies being told to the court by a PSNIdetective and a PSNI scene of crime officer was a disgrace.

    Futhermore the attitude of the PSNI press officer who stepped in at this point saying,”No, No thats not prt of the deal”, says it all.

    IS the PSNI now going to dictate to the media and the victims relatives what questions they are permitted to ask.

    I believe the action of this PSNI press officer is indicative of the non existant change within policing.

    I would hope that politicians take note of this before again asking republicans/nationalists to support the PSNI.

    I believe this blows the accountability myth out of the water, no matter how much spin any one tries to put on it.

  • Pete Baker

    Mark

    Just for a moment or two.. try directing some of that righteous anger against those who planned and carried out the bombing of Omagh.

    And those who know who did, but have not come forward.

  • Pete Baker

    Same point to ‘cut the bull’ – indeed.

  • cut the bull

    Indeed Pete you seem to be trying to cast a shadow here that its not on to aks pertinat questions about this trialif you’re not willing to condemn the bombers aswell.

    Give your head a shake

  • Pete Baker

    ctb

    And you’re asking questions are you?

    Not in that comment you’re not.

    It’s all “I believe..”

    There’s plenty of meat in what’s linked, and excerpted, in the original post.

    Should you be so inclined.

  • cut the bull

    I have asked questions, and put forward points and views that dare I say it, I believe are valid. Now whats your point.

  • Dewi

    Pete – plenty of circumstantial meat – and plenty of accusations – but a bloke has languished in jail for years and has now been acquitted. Is not that the story?

  • Mark McGregor

    Pete,

    The families have received and should continue to receive ‘righteous anger’.

    Today should be about a ‘new’ PSNI being up to their necks in a stitch-up.

    Emotion over the act is an easy way to deflect attention from today’s real news – the PSNI lie and are willing to send people to gaol with fabricated evidence.

    Tomorrow, like yesterday, can be for the families. Just for one day Sean Hoey and his PSNI stitch-up should be to the fore.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘try directing some of that righteous anger against those who planned and carried out the bombing of Omagh.’

    so we shouldn’t flag up the gross misconduct of the agencies of the state?

  • Bemused

    Ok. Let’s stop fucking about. Here’s the deal.

    1. Criticising the R.U.C./P.S.N.I. does not make you either (a) a supporter of the R.I.R.A. or (b)an apologist for the Omagh bombers.

    2. Sean Hoey was NEVER going to be convicted on the evidence put before the Crown Court. This case has been the talk of legal circles in Belfast for the last two years. It’s been an open secret that the prosecution was a hopeless pile of shite which was being conducted either (a) for a wider political purpose (i.e to give the families some sort of ‘day out’ and so that the cops could be seen to be doing SOMETHING) or (b) for a more nefarious purpose (i.e. the cops have been up to their necks in this bombing and are maliciously seeking to improperly convict a scapegoat). Which is true? Not sure – but sit back and watch as Hoey now sues the bejesus out of the cops with probably the biggest malicious prosecution/unlawful detention Action in Northern legal history – my money’s on there being all manner of foul-smelling gunk still to come out in the open.

    3. Hoey’s relatives whooping and dancing round the courtroom should have been fucking ashamed of themselves.

    4. The investigation team are patently corrupt. Reg Weir was reasonably sparing on them by trying to portray the naked lying in the case as having only emanated from two officers. Anyone who knows anything about police investigations and the criminal law knows that this is utter balls. These two fuckers lied their way through this trial and this would have been known about by their superiors long before the matter ever came near a court.

    5. Baxter IS a disgrace – cast your minds back to the Omagh bomb inquests a number of years ago. Baxter was subjected to pretty mild cross-examination by one barrister about possible police antics in the case – he astoundingly (given what we now know) freaked out and began blubbing, yes BLUBBING, at the supposed outrage of anyone questioning the actions of HIS officers etc. etc.

    6. Cast your minds back to Eric Anderson – Baxter’s predecessor. An utter disgrace – ultimately busted flogging sensitive files relating to the investigation to undercover journalists.

    7. I hate the ‘Real’ IRA. I hate the IRA. I hate terrorists. I hate the people who bombed Omagh – but none of that stops me thinking/knowing that there is something particularly rotten in the state of Denmark. The cops have been at their work in this case and it will probably be twenty years before we ever get to here about it.

    8. My educated guess? The bombers (or at least a number of them) were police agents. The police knew about the bombing in advance and did nothing to stop it for ‘operational reasons’. The carnage and mayhem that ensued was either expected by police or the result of cack-handed antics by the cops or the bombers or both.

    4.

  • Pete Baker

    Dewi

    “plenty of circumstantial meat”

    Like the actual judgement.

    Mark

    “Today should be about a ‘new’ PSNI being up to their necks in a stitch-up.”

    You may think so. I think it’s about the collapse of a trial which was entirely reliant on forensic evidence – of dubious worth – because of the failure of any witnesses willing to testify against those actually responsible.

  • The Raven

    Well here’s mine. It’s not very often I get the pointy-Prod-head on about this aspect of our recent history, but amidst all the recriminations today, this wee nugget from Mr Alex Maskey…

    “I will be requesting a full report into the handling of the Omagh investigation, (SNIP) Sinn Fein supports the call for the urgent establishment of a public inquiry which can get to the truth about Omagh.”

    Of everything that has gone down over the past thirty years, and with many people within “mainstream” republicanism still to answer questions and stand up and be held accountable for what they did, statements like this take the veritable biscuit.

    Please forgive my cynicism at a time when thoughts should be with those who are suffering this very night, but how Spinn Fein must have been mopping the sweat of relief from their collective brow when the home team didn’t have to admit responsibility for this.

    As for the police press officer – atrocious handling of the media, which indeed underlines how far this fledgling force has yet to go.

  • Pete Baker

    Bemused makes an ‘educated’ guess.

    I’ll file that where it belongs.

  • The Dubliner

    I think paragraph 50 from Mr Justice Weir’s judgement is the most shocking:

    [i]In this case a most disturbing situation was exposed by the Defence. It came to light that a Ms Cooper, then a SOCO but now apparently a police officer, gave evidence that she was wearing protective clothing at this scene when in fact she was wearing nothing of the kind, as photographs taken at the scene fortunately revealed. I add that she gave similarly incorrect evidence in relation to her apparel at Forkhill, again happily exposed by the availability of photographs. A Detective Chief Inspector Marshall also gave evidence about his wearing protective clothing at Altmore which photographs proved to be incorrect. These two witnesses were responsible for dealing with exhibits from Altmore including the TPU and for transporting it to the Forensic Laboratory in Belfast and later to the laboratory in Birmingham for DNA examination. The explanation as to how their untruths came to be told and the deliberate attempts, as I am satisfied they were, to conceal what the Defence not unfairly characterised as the “beefing up” of the initial statement of Ms Cooper are deeply disquieting. I am left in the position that I do not know what if anything I can believe of the evidence of these two and I am satisfied that, had photographs not been available to gainsay their lies, they would have persisted in seeking to and very possibly have succeeded in convincing me that, being at that time (somewhat unusually if the evidence of others is correct) alive to the possibility of DNA contamination, they were wearing suitable protective clothing to obviate such a risk. Such was my disquiet at their evidence and that of others connected with this matter that upon its completion I had transcripts of the evidence on this issue sent to the Police Ombudsman. The effect of this, as I find deliberate and calculated deception in which others concerned in the investigation and preparation of this case for trial beyond these two witnesses may also have played a part, is to make it impossible for me to accept any of the evidence of either witness since I have no means of knowing whether they may have told lies about other aspects of the case that were not capable of being exposed as such. [/i]

    The incompetence of initial forensic investigaters is compounded by their attempt to deliberately deceive the court, having the outcome of denying justice for a vast number of NI’s citizens.

    Still, we’re all supposed to forget about these people so that those most responsible for their fate can enjoy bright new careers that we rewarded them with, aren’t we? No Truth Commisson, the proposed Victim’s Commissioner relegated to procedural farce, and no hope of a public inquiry into Omagh, either.

    Happy Christmas NI-style.

  • Bemused

    Bemused makes an ‘educated’ guess.

    I’ll file that where it belongs.

    Posted by Pete Baker on Dec 20, 2007 @ 10:45 PM

    File it wherever you want Pete. Telling that you hadn’t the balls to deal with any of the content of my post.

  • Dewi

    So Pete – should Mr Hoey sue the PSNI for all it is worth or should he be grateful for being let off ?

  • Mark McGregor

    Pete,

    The judge disagrees with you. He is passing a file to the Ombudsman as a result.

    It wasn’t a DNA issue to him, it was a lying issue.

  • Pete Baker

    “File it wherever you want Pete. Telling that you hadn’t the balls to deal with any of the content of my post.”

    Bemused

    That ‘content’ is, in reality, a manifestation of the poisonous foundations of the indigenous deal we’ve been presented with.

    I believe I’ve mentioned that once or twice previously.

  • Pete Baker

    Mark

    And where do I disagree with the judge?

  • cut the bull

    If I may dare to speculate, I do believe Seán Hoey may have grounds to sue the PSNI.

    Or maybe I should just ask a question. Does any one believe Seán Hoey would have grounds to sue.

  • cut the bull

    Surely the PPS have a few questions to answer.

    Why was this trial allowed to proceed with the knowledge that an investigating detective and a scenes of crime officer had lied to the court, making a total farce of the prosecutions case, the forensic evidence was to say the least very questionable, the prosecution were at one point going to produce evidence relating to voice analysis but then dropped it and there was no admission of guilt by the accused.

  • steve

    Raven
    Please forgive my cynicism at a time when thoughts should be with those who are suffering this very night, but how Spinn Fein must have been mopping the sweat of relief from their collective brow when the home team didn’t have to admit responsibility for this.

    Why would Sinn Fein be sweating? If this was a RIRA operation, and no seems to desoute it was, why would Sinn Fein be worried?

  • The Raven

    “Why would Sinn Fein be sweating? If this was a RIRA operation, and no seems to desoute it was, why would Sinn Fein be worried?”

    Here we go:

    “…but how Spinn Fein must have been mopping the sweat of relief from their collective brow when the home team didn’t have to admit responsibility for this.”

  • slug

    Really my feelings today are those of sadness for the victims who have suffered so much and have now so little hope of justice.

  • steve

    Sinn Fein is not the home team for the RIRA everybody but you seems to understand that

  • The Raven

    For the hard of understanding, and one more time:

    “…but how Spinn Fein must have been mopping the sweat of relief from their collective brow when the home team didn’t have to admit responsibility for this.”

    i.e. Gosh I bet they were glad that they didn’t have to make apologies for their lads. Does that help? I don’t think I said anywhere about the Spinners and RIRA being linked.

    But let’s not get away from the point of the thread.

  • Bent cops & psychopaths

    My best Christmas wishes to the Omagh families, I sincerely hope you find justice in 2008.

  • Danny O’Connor

    The police were shite from the start on this but they didn’t plant the bomb.The terrorists and their cronies are responsible for this.They have brought nothing but shame on the search for a united Ireland.They are nothing but murdering scum-killing innocent people-just like Hitler,Stalin and PolPot.

  • kensei

    “You may think so. I think it’s about the collapse of a trial which was entirely reliant on forensic evidence – of dubious worth – because of the failure of any witnesses willing to testify against those actually responsible.”

    Ah. Lying to the court and shitting on the judicial process is clearly unimportant. Making big claims that they knew they couldn’t back up on and causing further pain to the families is clearly unimportant. And even if there had have been witnesses, forensic evidence would probably have still been required to establish reasonable doubt. Fucks up like this could have overturned a conviction on appeal.

    Pathetic, really pathetic.

  • The Dubliner

    Steve, RIRA are the spawn of PIRA, comprised of those who learned their trade from the Provos and led by Michael McKevitt, PIRA’s Quartermaster, who left the Army Council to continue what PIRA started after the rest of that ilk grew fat, tired and lazy off the considerable private and political profits of their vile trade and were too riddled with British agents to fart without MI5 or a plethora of other intelligence agencies knowing about it. However, just as PIRA was riddled with agents, so was RIRA, so they quickly discovered that quitting was the right idea after all. Without Adams, McGuinness and the rest of that Provo ilk launching the north into a highly-organised sectarian killing spree, Omagh and a few thousand other murders wouldn’t have occured. They’re the scum who engineered ‘The Troubles.’

  • The Dubliner

    Plus, Kensei, the fact that PSNI officers lied to the court won’t encourage ‘witnesses’ to cooperate with them in future – it’ll have the opposite effect.

  • heck

    “were too riddled with British agents to fart without MI5 or a plethora of other intelligence agencies knowing about it. However, just as PIRA was riddled with agents, so was RIRA, so they quickly discovered that quitting was the right idea after all.”

    dubliner -are you suggesting that “MI5 or a plethora of other intelligence agencies” knew about the omagh bomb before hand, knew who made it and where it was being made while it was being made, knew who was delivering it when it was being delivered, tracked the car as it was being driven and knew where it was parked.

    and who benefited from the loss of life?

    Say it is’nt so dubliner. I shocked just shocked to think someone would suggest that

  • Steve

    Dubliner
    turn off the fire you have a gas leak. Either that or you completely fail to understand the word “former” look it up and maybe this will all come into focus

    Raven are you hard of understanding or illiterate? see post above. Once they become former they no longer are your responsibility or…. wasn’t there a wee DUP elected official accused of being a sodomite? So based on your logic, based on being a former comrade, the entire DUP elected body is a bunch of sodomites? Would explain a lot but I am guessing the DUP wont accept this explanation when it is applied to them!

  • Twinbrook resident

    lets forget all the psni`s improper conduct sorry lying and lets blame everyone else that there wasn`t a conviction.
    Hoey should of been found guilty just because he was catholic and republican, aaah for the olde days when the croppies knew their place, eh pete

  • RepublicanStones

    Dubliner can you go for even one post without mentioning the IRA or Sinn Fein or Gerry or Martin?????
    and who engineered the ‘troubles’? it seems your unaware of the history of the north of ireland, and it seems that gas leak is still on !

  • “1. Criticising the R.U.C./P.S.N.I. does not make you either (a) a supporter of the R.I.R.A. or (b)an apologist for the Omagh bombers.”

    No. But celebrating and applauding the release of this character does.

  • DK

    But he added: “It is my view and the view of my family that Sean Hoey was one of the conspirators involved in the Omagh bomb — we can’t prove it.”

    So in an ideal world, Sean Hoey gets millions from suing the corrupt cops, but then has to give it all to the families after their their civil case against him.

  • The Raven

    Steve wrote “Raven are you hard of understanding or illiterate?”

    Y’know what? If you can’t manage to decipher the syntax, I can’t help you. It’s fairly easy to understand. If it’s beyond you, I’m sorry.

  • Picador

    ‘My educated guess? The bombers (or at least a number of them) were police agents. The police knew about the bombing in advance and did nothing to stop it for ‘operational reasons’. The carnage and mayhem that ensued was either expected by police or the result of cack-handed antics by the cops or the bombers or both.’

    Bemused,

    I think you sum up the view of the proverbail dogs on the street. Except you left out MI5.

    Pete,

    Take off the bottle-green/PSNi blue tinted specs. We are not fools.

    One further point:

    Members of An Garda Siochana perjured themselves at the trial of Colm Murphy. They weren’t held to account for their lies; and the same will be the case for the PSNI; just as it was for the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad & the Surrey Police. Some things will never change.

    And the republuican Flat Earth Society can go and f*** themselves!

  • IJP

    Good articles.

    This is a really tough one to accept. The conduct of all sides has been appalling – from the perpetrators to the investigators.

    Unfortunately we have little to do but make sure such investigations improve in future. I’m not confident the modern PSNI is any better trained or equipped in this regard than the 1998 RUC. That’s really alarming too.

    (PS: Out of interest, what is the Northern Ireland community?)