Miscarriage of Justice

The Supreme Court has allowed appeals from two men Raymond McCartney and Eamonn MacDermott, both from Northern Ireland, after they claim to have been victims of wrongful convictions.

The two men were convicted of murder and membership of the IRA in 1979 and had their convictions quashed in 2007. However, this was not the case for aircraft engineer Andrew Adams, from Newcastle, who spent 14 years in prison before his murder charge was ruled to be unsafe.

Justices announced their rulings in a similar case of importance, that of Barry George who was responsible for the murder of Jill Dando. George served eight years in prison.

The justices’ were asked to then define a “miscarriage of justice” according to The Criminal Justice Act 1988, of which the majority of five to four claimed that a miscarriage of justice is; “when a new or newly discovered fact shows conclusively that the evidence against a defendant has been so undermined that no conviction could possibly be based upon it”.

The appeals by Mr McCartney and Mr MacDermott were allowed on that point of majority. The appeal made by Mr Adams was unanimously dismissed because even if the evidence, that led to the quashing of his trial, was available at the time, they said a “reasonable jury may or may not have convicted the defendant”

The justices’ ruled that Mr Adams case did not fall under Section 133 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which clearly states that the Secretary of State for Justice pays compensation in cases “when a person has been convicted of a criminal offence and when subsequently his conviction has been reversed or he has been pardoned on the ground that a new or newly discovered fact shows beyond reasonable doubt that there has been a miscarriage of justice”.


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