Last supergrass trial was, um, actually just four years ago…

JUST watching the BBC and it’s constantly reporting that today marks the start of the “first ‘supergrass’ trial in Belfast for 25 years”. It’s not. No-one seems to remember that just four years ago, this happened – and it wasn’t exactly a roaring success.

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  • jthree

    Are you certain these were co-operating witnesses as defined in sections 71 to 75 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 = supergrass

    Or were they mere accomplice witnesses = not supergrass

  • Given that the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 only came in in 2005 and every other supergrass trial in Northern Ireland’s entire history occurred before that, I’m not sure it’s relevant.

    In fact, I’m sure it’s not.

  • jthree

    Read the relevant sections and you’ll see that it is

  • Totally disagree with Supergrass Trials, they only subvert the Human Rights of the Defendant! British injustice in Ireland is alive and well!

  • AR,

    Is that just a rant? How could evidence given, which can be contested, subvert the rights of the defendant? Perhaps you could elaborate?

  • Nunoftheabove

    ArdEoin Republican

    Agree with Joe here, if you have anything approaching a principled basis for arguing with the legal approach besides the fact that you say they represent British injustice then let’s hear it.

    If you have none then can I respectfully suggest that you may find yourself more at home on, say, the site where the sloganeering ‘fun’ never ends and the actual business of politics never actually seems to start.

  • Rory Carr

    My thoughts exactly on ArdEoin Republican’s contribution. Does he not realise I wonder that if there is something flawed and prejudicial to justice in the use of supergrasses then outbursts like his which have no clear basis other than the ire of he who utters it are more likely to do harm than good as, being so easy to dismiss, they then weaken any good argument.

    I accept however that there must always be a healthy scepticism when weighing such evidence from former associates of the accused. Whether or not such evidence must be seen to be tainted in all cases however is more problematic.

    It is I suppose, just possible (even if we think it highly unlikely) that a career criminal might suddenly come to a Pauline moment in life and decide to turn over his life and make amends to society for all the wrong he has done.The difficulty comes in accepting that helping to send his former associates to prison in order that he may remain free to help old ladies across the road is the best way to convince society of his change of heart.

  • Yes, Rory; the evidence has to be very strong. For example, If I was on a jury I would never accept the evidence of a jailhouse snitch. There have been too many miscarriages of justice due to people who are hoping for favourable treatment. It is the same to a certain degree with evidence of accomplices. If they are caught in a single lie then their whole evidence has to be viewed unfavourably.

  • jthree

    Supergrass is not a legal term. Surely it refers to those informers who give evidence against their former comrades in exchange for something, such as a more lenient sentence, regardless of legislation.

  • lamhdearg

    Whats the difference betweet a supergrass, and a tout, what they get in return?.

  • lamhdearg,

    I think it is just a term dreamed up by the media and is to do with the number of people on trial.

  • JR

    I have to say I am slightly uncomfortible with the idea that someone could be put behind bars solely on the evidence of a self confessed scumbag. In theory what is to stop him genuinely providing information on 5 terrorists while also stitching up three innocent people he has a vendetta against? If the supergrass’s word is the only evidence in the trial how can we differentiate?

  • Nunoftheabove


    By lending a thorough consideration to the credibility and of the cooperating witness, likewise the reliability of their evidence, by taking into account the presence – or absence- of any corroboration, by thoroughly cross-examining the accused as well as the cooperating witness and by ensuring that they have adequate access to robust defence facilities.

  • vanhelsing


    Thought that was the start of a joke:)


    Republican Network for Unity (RNU) Chairperson/Cathaoirleach, Carl Reilly has described the begining of the UVF Supergrass Trial as the latest episode of British injustice in Ireland.

    Speaking of the non-Jury Supergrass Trial, RNU’s Cathaoirleach said;

    ‘The Internment of Martin Corey, Gerry McGeough and Marian Price are reminiscent of the abuse of human rights by the Stormont Regime. So too is the resumption of a new Supergrass system. Both policies failed due to the unjust nature of British rule in Ireland.

    We witnessed the same old drama with new actors alongside contemporary frills in a Diplock Court. However the show’s Producers and Directors, the RUC Special Branch and MI5 were conveniently missing from today’s episode. Which was not surprising given that the British Government and her Armed Forces continue to conceal the truth behind its shadowy world of collusion in countless murders of Irish citizens’.

    Mr. Reilly concluded; ‘Despite the fog of media misrepresentation and spin-doctoring it is becoming clearer to ordinary Irish people that the British occupation of six Irish Counties continues unabated. RNU are not fooled and will expose imperialism from whatever quarter’.

  • JR

    On the plus side, the increased co-operation between Loyalists and Republicans can only be a good thing,

  • lamhdearg

    (bbc)”The 14 defendants are being represented by 24 barristers and eight firms of solicitors and the trial is expected to last for 11 weeks” at a cost off ? per day, the joke is on us all. If convictions follow the appeals process starts, based on the unsuitability of witness’s due to “new” information about their not telling all?.

  • Nunoftheabove


    Well yes and no, one side wanting more British justice, the other wanting none of it.

    Noticeable though that RNU is now broadcasting its intention to “expose” imperialism from whatever quarter. I look forward therefore to a complete and unambigious repudiation of the verminous caliphatists they – perhaps until now – have made no secret of supporting in the middle east.

  • This is another terrorism related trial that is going off the rails from the get go. Press reporting that one of the principal witnesses for the prosecution has admitted in court that he sometimes has problems with his memory. I fear another spectacular prosecution failure.

  • rodgerdoc

    Firstly to clear up one point a supergrass is a person who turns state witness and implicates several people and who receives a less conviction, it is not just a NI term nor does it just relate to terrorist offences but any major crime where as a tout or informant is a paid resource and generally does not bear witness in court cases.

    Back on topic and I have to agree entirely with Quincey here we are only on day 2 of this case and one of the witnesses has admitted that for most of his life he has been an alcoholic and serious drug user – for that reason case closed already.

    A convicition based on a supergrass testimoney has to be solid it is not the evidence that gains the convicition but how credible the witness is, in this case any defence lawyer would rip this to shreds by stating that the witness was unable to remember everything or indeed how could the witness know what he saw was reality and not a drug or alcohol induced vision. Many other cases have collpased for less.

    this isnt even taking into account that the 2 men may have a grudge to bear or indeed are merely trying to get themselves a reduced term .

    I’d be very surprised if anyone is convicted due soley on these testominies

  • rodgerdoc,

    Agree to an extent but it’s not just the “apparent” credibility of an accomplice. There has to be substantial other evidence that backs up the account given by the accomplice. Personally, if a witness is found out telling even one lie, I would not give any credence to any of his testimony. One of the witnesses in his case has already admitted to lying about details of the case. What is the worth of his testimony now? I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if the case is dismissed early, especially if his brother offers more of the same. It is always a pity when the guilty go free, but as with any defendant, the people on trial here have to be presumed innocent in the absence of a conviction.