“we have evidence that he interpreted it wrongly”

The Police Ombudsman’s investigation into claims by the trial judge Mr Justice Kerr, when finding Sean Hoey not guilty on charges connected to the Omagh bombing, that police forensic officers had engaged in a “deliberate and calculated deception” has concluded that the witnesses’ evidence was confused, but accurate. The Police Ombudsman’s press statement is here and the full statement on the investigation here [pdf file]. As the BBC reports

Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson said that while the evidence given to the court by the two officers was confused, it was accurate.

“The judge interpreted the evidence, I’m saying that he interpreted it wrongly, we have evidence that he interpreted it wrongly,” he said. “But it’s also understandable the trial judge came to the conclusion that he simply did not know whether he could believe the officers or not.”

From the Police Ombudsman’s statement

An investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s Office has found that the presentation of a photograph to the judge at the Omagh bomb trial with respect to the discovery of an unexploded mortar bomb at Altmore Forest led him to conclude that two police witnesses had not told the truth about forensic precautions taken at the scene. In fact, as a police witness had claimed, the photograph had been taken later than was thought.

Read the ‘Conclusions’ of Ombudsman’s Statement on the Investigation [pdf file] for more details.

Adds From the Guardian report

The officers had initially told the court they had worn protective clothing when collecting material from the scene of an unexploded mortar in Altmore Forest, County Tyrone, but the judge later questioned this when he was presented with a photograph showing them on the site in plain clothes. The mortar find formed part of an array of terrorist incidents the Crown had alleged Hoey was involved in.

An 18-month investigation by Hutchinson’s team found that the photograph had actually been taken after the forensic tests were completed. Hutchinson also rejected defence claims that the officers had “beefed up” parts of their testimony.

“If, by the term ‘beefing up’, it is meant to suggest that police officers added untrue information to their statements, then we have found no evidence that police statements were ‘beefed up’ by the two officers in question or by any others,” Hutchinson said. “We did find, however, that factually correct information was added to statements. I must also conclude that the two police officers were confused in the evidence they gave to the court.”

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  • veritas

    I`m confused, have we entered a Monty Python sketch..

    So the outcome is that they were constructive with the truth, not actually lying….so they where lying by the word of the Law but not by the spirit of the law!!!!

  • joeCanuck

    I agree, Veritas. It does sound Monty Pythonish.
    If the Ombudsman doesn’t know that it’s a no-no to add stuff to statements at a later date, then he’s not fit for purpose.

  • George

    “The judge interpreted the evidence, I’m saying that he interpreted it wrongly, we have evidence that he interpreted it wrongly”

    The judge interpreted the evidence as it was presented. The defence highlighted the discrepancies between the photos and the prosecution evidence.

    The prosecution failed to rebut this evidence. There was no misinterpretation involved unless the Ombudsman’s office has now set itself up as the arbiter of justice in Northern Ireland.

  • William

    The DPP were certainly at fault in not rebutting the defence claim that the photo showed the female forensic officer without protective shoes….the photo was in fact taken after the van was no longer a crime scene.

    I do think there is a good case for a retrial ….

    Talking of trails and I’m off subject…I see Don Mullan [author of books on Bloody Sunday] is suing a couple of the Solicitors in Madden & Finucane for breach of contract. Is this more interneacine warfare in Republican circles ?

  • joeCanuck

    Retrial, William!
    Did you follow the first Trial? Total cock-up bungle by the DPP and their Barristers.
    There is no possibility of a retrial; they ain’t gonna get two bites at this particular cherry, nor do they deserve two. Besides, it’s too late to file, I believe.

  • ArchiePurple

    Hi Joe…well there is someone as guilty as sin….and many have a fair idea who it is !!!

  • cynic

    Read it again.

    They told the truth. The defence pulled the classic ambush defence of producing a photo like a rabbit out of the hat….ahhhh m’Laud so this PROVEs that the witness wasn’t wearing a forensic suit so he / she MUST be lying.

    It then appears no-one, least of all the judge, asked when it had been taken or robed this in any depth. To quote the Ombudsman, who has looked objectively at the evidence:

    “The judge interpreted the evidence, I’m saying that he interpreted it wrongly, we have evidence that he interpreted it wrongly,”

    So the police weren’t ‘constructive’ or anything else with the truth. They told the truth – the Ombudsman has shown that – but in our glorious adversarial system where the court doesn’t seek the truth but holds the ring between two warring factions, the defence were that bit quicker on their feet and the Judge then seems to have swallowed it hook line and sinker.

    Of course this is of little consolation to the families

  • P Bradley

    William “Talking of trails and I’m off subject…I see Don Mullan [author of books on Bloody Sunday] is suing a couple of the Solicitors in Madden & Finucane for breach of contract. Is this more interneacine warfare in Republican circles”

    Why do you assume Don Mullan is part of “Republican circles”? Why not try a bit of an open mind? All taigs aren’t part of a conspiracy. Some may have an independent and non-Sinn Fein view of things. And, believe it or not, the state may have actually acted wrongly.

  • joeCanuck

    Archiepurple,

    I know someone or two are as guilty as sin.
    And I’m as interested as anyone in seeing justice done which now seems unlikely: My grandniece lost both eyes in the explosion. She was 16 years old at the time.
    But Mr.Hoey was found not guilty; our jurisprudence says innocent until proven guilty so we have to consider Hoey to be innocent.

  • cynic

    It’s funny you know but when the trial collapsed I seem to remember scores of psots on here screaming and demandiingbthepoolce be suspended, summarily dismissed, hung from the nearest gibbet, etc.

    Now they ahve been investigated and found to be inncent as charged its awfully quiety in here.

    And Joe, while I support your view that:

    “our jurisprudence says innocent until proven guilty so we have to consider Hoey to be innocent”

    that cuts two ways.

  • fin

    Here is a defination of “beefing up” from thesaurus,
    Main Entry: augmentation
    Part of Speech: noun
    Definition: making greater; improving
    Synonyms: accession, accretion, addition, amplification, beefing up, boost, buildup, development, enhancement, enlargement, enrichment, expansion, extension, fleshing out, growth, heightening, hike, increase, increment, inflation, intensification, magnification, multiplication, raise, reinforcement, rise, strengthening, swelling, up, upping

    if it was found that “factually correct information was added to statements” than yes evidence was beefed up

    both cops claimed to have written a single statement each, both where shown an additional less detailed statement than that submitted to the court, both changed their evidence that they had written 2 statements. Shocking

  • Rory Carr

    So then two cops are deemed by a judge, presiding over a trial to which they gave sworn testimony, to have been guilty of having been engaged in a “deliberate and calculated deception”. Then, when the possibility of being held to account for such deception looms, a external body rides in to their rescue and these deliberating, calculating deceivers are off the hook.

    Cheer up, lads! Happens in England all the time. It’s the Golden Rule – the rozzers never, ever get done. If they were to then we would quickly see a spate of investigations into the behavior of establishment members which had previously been blithely ignored. And then where would we be? The end of civilisation as we know it, that’s where.

    And wouldn’t that be nice? Ah, but one can yet dream.

  • cynic

    1 We don’t trust the Police.

    2 I know, let’s have an Ombudsman

    3 He says they didn’t tell lies!!

    4 We don’t trust the Ombudsman

    5 Let’s have an Ombudsman for the Ombudsman

    6 Go to 1 and repeat indefinitely.

  • Congal Claen

    Also remember the judge cocked up on the low copy DNA. Reports since the trial have backed up the validity of this method.

    Seems someone was a lucky boy…

  • George

    Also remember the judge cocked up on the low copy DNA. Reports since the trial have backed up the validity of this method.

    The judge cocked up?

    Firstly, the defence queried the possibility of contamination of samples not the validity of the DNA low copy numbering method.

    Perhaps then you can tell me why Forensic Science Northern Ireland admitted that they had since enhanced their protective measures so as to minimise the chance of future cross-contamination of multiple samples when using LCN?

    Everyone seems to want to blame the judge when it looks awfully like cock up after cock up by the prosecution.