The trial of the three men charged in connection with the murder of Robert McCartney ended on Friday when, after the three had declined to give evidence on their own behalves, Mr Justice Gillen told the court that he would provide a verdict “in the not too distant future.” The three men had also failed in their attempt to have the case against them thrown out when Mr Justice Gillen, despite referring to “three key errors” in witness C’s testimony, said that the evidence was “not so poor and unsupported that [he] could not conceivably convict on the strength of it”. Defence barristers also criticised the testimony of Ed Gowdy, claiming that his evidence had been “filtered through the prism of an IRA investigation” – the IRA statement on that investigation is here. That point was picked up on by Mr Justice Gillen, as reported today by Alan Murray.
Judge Gillen said that the matter of IRA discussions with Gowdy before he made a statement to the police must be taken into account in assessing his credibility. But the judge noted that that if visits by paramilitary organisations to witnesses were deemed to taint evidence from witnesses, so as to make such evidence unacceptable to the courts, that would provide a valuable weapon to such groups to undermine the rule of law — and would enable them to effectively sideline witnesses.