A man charged with soliciting others to murder Mrs Jean McConville was today (Thursday 17th October) acquitted by a jury after the Public Prosecution Service offered no further evidence against him.
This decision was taken after Mr Justice O’Hara ruled that a key piece of evidence relied upon against Ivor Bell – namely audio recordings known as the Boston Tapes - was inadmissible.
Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Michael Agnew, said:
“The prosecution team considered carefully whether there was a right of appeal to this judgment. However, given that Mr Bell had been found unfit to stand trial, and the hearing in which the ruling was made was a trial of the facts rather than a criminal trial, it was concluded that there is no mechanism for any appeal.
“In these circumstances, the prosecution has offered no further evidence against the defendant and the jury has been directed to find him not guilty.
“This case presented the PPS with a number of novel and complex legal and evidential issues. Whilst we respect the ruling of the Judge we remain satisfied the proceedings were properly brought.
“The decisions taken in this case were fully in accordance with the Test for Prosecution which requires the PPS to proceed with those cases in which it is considered there is a reasonable prospect of conviction (or of a finding that a defendant unfit to be tried did the act charged against him) and in which prosecution is in the public interest.
“The PPS would like to sincerely thank the family of Mrs Jean McConville for the positive and dignified way in which they have engaged with us throughout what was no doubt a distressing time for them.”