8 May 2003 Edition

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Miscarriage victim cleared at last

A man who served nine years in prison for an offence he didn't commit had his conviction quashed in the High Court in Belfast this week.

In 1977, John Boyle was convicted of membership of the IRA and possessing a gun with intent. He was sentenced to twelve years in prison and served nine of those before his release, all the while protesting his innocence.

Now, 25 years after his conviction, Boyle has been cleared of all charges by the Court of Appeal.

"I am very pleased that a miscarriage of justice has been recognised , even if it took such a long time," Boyle said outside court on Wednesday 30 April, "Today I feel totally vindicated with the result of my appeal and a miscarriage of justice has been recognised."

During his trial, Boyle repeatedly denied making any admissions and claimed that his alleged "confession" to the RUC was fabricated by detectives. Three months later, his appeal was dismissed. It was not until 1999 that his case was taken up by the Criminal Cases Review Commission - the body set up to investigate miscarriages of justice.

The commission arranged to have a forensic expert carry out tests on RUC interview notes, which revealed that the notes of one interview had been rewritten.

The Ombudsman then recommended to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that the two RUC men involved in altering the interview should stand trial for perjury, but it has since emerged that the DPP decided not to prosecute on the grounds that there was not sufficient evidence to warrant a conviction.

"I should never had got time in the first place. I should never have been sentenced and I have consistantly denied saying anything from 1977," Boyle told reporters outside the High Court this week. "It was my word against these two men. I've proved that I was telling the truth.

"Those two men have perjured themselves, they got up in court and said they didn't rewrite, they did rewrite and it's been proved that they rewrote.

"We will be pushing to see if we can get a perjury charge."

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