COURT OF APPEAL HEAR CASE AGAINST CONVICTION OF MARY CLINTON AND BERNIE ARMSTRONG
Mary Clinton and Bernadette Armstrong were arrested in 1987 for the false imprisonment of a man at 8 Rathbeg Close, Downpatrick in County Down. The hose they lived in had been occupied by Sandy Lynch, an agent of the British state, who proceeded to falsely imprison a man. He was subsequently taken from the house and shot on the basis that he was an alleged informer. Both women maintained that the man left their house by his own free will and neither were aware of any false imprisonment. Despite this crime being instigated by a State agent, neither women nor their defence teams were aware of the involvement of a State agent.
Today the Court of Appeal heard legal arguments that the convictions of Mary Clinton and Bernie Armstrong were unsafe as a result of the undisclosed involvement of state agents, and in particular Sandy Lynch – a person employed at the material time as a covert human intelligence source – in the alleged offence.
Further, it was argued that the convictions were also unsafe as there was directly relevant material on the question whether a trial of the appellant should take place, which had not been made available to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) when he decided that Mary Clinton and Bernie Armstrong should be prosecuted for the offences of which they were subsequently convicted.
The DPP was therefore not in a position to give full and proper consideration to whether the appellants should stand trial on those charges The convictions are, it was argued, unsafe as certain material and information – that a state agent was involved in a crime of entrapment – was not provided to the DPP, as such, the extent of disclosure to the appellants that took place was not sufficient. The DPP was therefore not in a position to perfect his duty of disclosure both before and during the original trials.
Gavin Booth of KRW LAW LLP said:
“We would welcome a judgment in favour of our clients Mary Clinton and Bernie Armstrong. They were set up maliciously by the state in order to protect their agent Sandy Lynch. This case, and other similar cases, demonstrate how the state continued to pervert justice in order to protect their informers. Both women spent 30 years convicted of something they did not do. Both were given criminal records, both were vilified by the media at the time. This caused considerable problems for them throughout their lives. This added undue stress and hardship to their respective families. We welcome a decision of both the Court of Appeal and the PPS not to stand over these in the New Year”