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23 July 1998 Edition

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Coopey lawyer charged

by Deirdre Feehan

The defence solicitor for Norman James Coopey, the man charged with the brutal murder of Annsborough teenager James Morgan, was last week sharing the same prison as his client.

Portadown lawyer Charles Richard Monteith, who is now on bail, denied charges of obstructing the RUC and causing criminal damage, but pleaded guilty to obstructing a public highway. The charges relate to the cutting down of a tree which was being used at the time by a group of undercover British soldiers carrying out surveillance duties, causing injuries to one soldier as he toppled from the tree. The tree had also fallen on top of a parked car during the disturbances close to Wood Lane in Lurgan.

Serious questions now hang over Monteith being able to represent Coopey whose trial is scheduled to take place at the start of October. His future as a member of the legal profession is also in doubt as conviction on any of the charges he faces could disqualify him from practising as a lawyer in the future. Monteith is a member of the governing council of the Northern Ireland Law Society and holds the position of chair on the society's Criminal Law Committee. When contacted by An Phoblacht, the Law Society were decidedly unhelpful and went as far as denying that Monteith held any executive position within their society.

The charges against Monteith have caused great embarrassment to David Trimble. Both men worked closely together on the executive of the Ulster Clubs, a militant Loyalist grouping active in the mid 1980s out of which the Ulster Resistance emerged.
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