29 October 2009 Edition

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Frame-up victim challenges compensation ruling

WRONGFULLY IMPRISONED: John Boyle was framed by RUC detectives and sentenced to 12 years

WRONGFULLY IMPRISONED: John Boyle was framed by RUC detectives and sentenced to 12 years

SOUTH BELFAST man John Boyle is challenging the British Secretary of State over his refusal to pay him compensation for wrongful imprisonment.
Boyle was framed by RUC detectives and sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment in 1977 but in April 2003 his conviction was quashed after it was investigated by the Criminal Cases Review Commission CCRC).
Despite having his conviction overturned, the British Secretary of State refused to pay compensation.
In 2008, three senior judges sitting in Belfast ruled that the Secretary of State’s decision was incorrect but, almost two years later, the present incumbent, Shaun Woodward, has yet to award Boyle compensation.

John Boyle was arrested in 1976 and questioned by RUC detectives. During interviews the south Belfast man refused to make any statements yet he was charged with involvement in an IRA attack on the RUC.
During his 1977 trial the RUC claimed in court that Boyle admitted, verbally, that he had been involved in the attack and he was sentenced by a Diplock [non-jury] court judge to 12 years in prison. Boyle was eventually released from the H-Blocks in 1986 and continued in his quest to prove his innocence.
In 1999, the CCRC, which investigates miscarriages of justice, found that RUC interview notes had been rewritten by RUC detectives to include Boyle’s alleged verbal admissions.
His conviction was subsequently quashed in April 2003 by the Court of Appeal.

During last Friday’s hearing, aimed at forcing the Secretary of State to compensate Boyle, the proceedings were dismissed by consent after it was confirmed that one of the Secretary of State’s officials has asked Boyle’s legal team to make further submissions in respect of his compensation bid.
Fearghal Shields, acting for Boyle, pointed out:
“The Secretary of State already had more than a year to reflect on the detail of the Court of Appeal judgement and its implications. We can find no good reason for a further significant delay in the communication of the minister’s decision to our client.”
John Boyle also criticised the added delay:
“I have contested my innocence for more than 30 years and in 2003 it was proved in the highest court in the land that those notes were rewritten and that I spent nine years in jail for something I had nothing to do with.
“Even now, six years after my name was supposed to have been cleared, I still have this cloud of guilt hanging over my head because the Secretary of State will not accept that I was wrongly convicted.”

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