Canning trial halted

The BBC reports that Mr Justice McCloskey has halted the trial of Marvin Canning, the brother-in-law of Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, on charges relating to the abduction and assault of a businessman and his partner from their home in Mullingar, County Westmeath, in April 2007.

The couple were later found in the High Park area of Creggan, Londonderry.  The man had been shot in both ankles and subsequently lost the sight of his left eye.

The body of a man who was reportedly being sought by police for questioning about the Mullingar abduction was discovered on the shores of Lough Neagh in January 2008.

From today’s BBC report

Mr Justice McCloskey said late disclosure of “pivotal” statements by prosecutors meant the trial was unfair.

The judge said while it did not equate to a formal acquittal, inconsistencies in the evidence meant he would not have convicted him of the charges anyway.

Mr Canning had been charged with kidnapping the County Westmeath businessman and his partner, falsely imprisoning them, wounding the man and possessing the gun used to shoot him in both feet.

The judge said the late disclosure of materials was to be “lamented and strongly deprecated” and that as such, had resulted in such potential prejudice as to render any trial unfair.

“Late disclosure has occured in this trial on such a scale which is probably, and hopefully, unprecedented,” he said.

Mr Justice McCloskey said the disclosure failures were “of some gravity”.

“It is to be expected of the chief constable that the organisations of cases are to be scrupulously investigated to identify any weaknesses in the police system so as to ensure that there would be no comparable recurrence,” he added.

He said there was no doubt the couple had “suffered a terrible ordeal”.

While he believed they were “truthful witnesses” who had shown considerable “fortitude and courage,” he said the threshold of proof beyond reasonable doubt of Mr Canning’s guilt “would not have been overcome”.

The UTV report adds

Granting the abuse of process application at Belfast Crown Court, Mr Justice McCloskey said there was no doubt the new materials, including statements from Garda Siochana officers and other documents relating to interviews of other suspects and identity parades, were “pivotal” to the case.

And that

During the application prosecuting QC David Hunter had argued that the judge could excuse himself and a fresh trial be held with a new judge after full disclosure had been made but Mr Justice McCloskey rejected that argument.

He said that to date “a significant Pandora’s box” has been opened and any new trial would have the potential to extend that further with more investigations to be carried out by both the defence and prosecution.

While Mr Justice McCloskey granted the stay application, he adjourned the trial until next Wednesday to allow the Crown time to consider his ruling and whether they will launch an appeal against it.

Update  The BBC reports today (10 November)

Prosecutors told Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday they would not appeal against the judge’s decision.

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  • joeCanuck

    Is there to be no end in sight for the bungling of high profile cases by the PSNI and the public prosecutor? If I was a conspiracy theory buff I could say more.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Are we our brother-in-laws keeper?
    Ive got six brothers in law.
    Id hate it if any of them appeared in court and it was reported “Jxxxx Exxxwood……brother in law of FitzjamesHorse…..”
    and Im sure we would all agree.

  • joeCanuck

    I think we held that debate at the time of the original arrest. It’s probably a toss-up as to whether or not to report a connection to a public figure.

  • pippakin

    But sometimes who your brother in law is can, possibly, be very useful.

  • wild turkey

    not being offay with relevant libel/slander uk case law, and also appreciative of the position of slugger in general and mick in particular… nonetheless a few questions

    uh, by what route does Mr McCloskey become “Justice” McCloskey?

    how does a “Justice” emerge?
    are they nominated and/or put up for preferment by the NI Bar?

    how are candidates for “Justice” and other high fallutin positions examined and assessed?

    who makes the assessment and ultimate decision on ones suitability to be a “Justice”?

    are there clear and explicit ground rules where a “Justice” should recuse him/herself from a case?

    with respect to the Northern Ireland Bar and arising judicial appointees, are there any greater chicken shits on an ego trip extent on the planet today?

    is there any viable way to rid ourselves of these fuckers?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    oh I think it is legitimate to report it……after all if it was (at random) David Camerons brother in law or Reg Empeys son in law in court…….it would be interesting and arguably newsworthy.
    What I cant understand is that (on other threads and message baord and not of course this one) the connexion is reported with a certain glee.
    Im sure we all agree that would be improper.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I cant say Ive ever noticed that any of my bros in law are remotely useful.

  • DC

    Well well well, at least at the end of the day somebody won: the lawyers.

  • pippakin


    Nothing like happy families is there.

  • joeCanuck

    Same as the bookies. They never lose.

  • Alias

    He was lucky that the British state sabotaged his trial since his own attempt to do so by threatening to murder the witnesses against him had failed to achieve its purpose of deterring them from providing evidence. It’s nice to have friends and family in high places.

  • Pete Baker

    “oh I think it is legitimate to report it”

    And yet you jump on the mention in another attempt to run interference on the post.

  • joeCanuck

    Wild Turkey,

    I think you might be confusing Judges, who are often called “Justice (Lord Chief Justice, e.g.), and Magistrates. Judges must have legal qualifications and are appointed by the Judicial Appointments Commission or something similar (it was the Lord Chancellor until a few years ago).
    Magistrates are upstanding laymen and anyone (except police officers and the like) can apply when recruitment is called for.

  • Pete Baker

    Update The BBC reports today (10 November)

    Prosecutors told Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday they would not appeal against the judge’s decision.