2 December 2004 Edition

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Kieran Milnes released

West Belfast man Kieran Milnes, sentenced last month to nine months for apprehending a teenager he believed was trying to steal his car, was released from jail on Wednesday.

Sinn Féin MLA Michael Ferguson was informed that Milnes had been freed on bail by the High Coutt in Belfast, as he and the Milnes family left the office of the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith in London. They had travelled in an attempt to get the conviction reversed.

Michael siad: "It was a great relief to learn that Kieran had been released and his sisters Cathy and Coleen, who are with me, are extremely pleased.

"The decision to release Kieran is a demonstration of the power of public opinion and we hope that the Attorney General will help expedite a hearing so that we can achieve Kieran's unconditional freedom."

Coleen and Cathy, along with Ferguson, had presented Goldsmith with a petition with more than 5,000 signatures from members of the public calling for his release.

Milnes says his guilty plea was involuntary and that he was advised he had no choice but to admit the offence.

The Milnes family told Goldsmith that their brother felt let down by the PSNI and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and that the PSNI had failed to carry out proper investigative procedures at the time of the incident.

The new legal team representing Milnes has demanded a retrial and lodged an application with the Belfast office of the Court of Appeal calling for his guilty plea to be nullified.

The Court of Appeal will decide whether or not it will hear the application after examining the papers. If the application is accepted, a date for a hearing will be set and a retrial could take place within weeks.

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