Co Down shotgun murder farmer fails in Supreme Court bid


A wealthy pig farmer jailed for a shotgun murder failed today in a bid to have his conviction examined by the Supreme Court.

Senior judges in Belfast refused permission for Jimmy Seales to take his case to London, ruling that it raised no legal point of public importance.

Seales’ lawyers are now considering whether to seek to go before the European Court of Human Rights in a final attempt to clear his name.

The 57-year-old is serving a life sentence for the murder of Philip Strickland in Co Down back in January 2012.

Mr Strickland, 37, was found dead in his Citroen Saxo car at Ballydrain Road on the outskirts of Comber.

He had been shot in the leg at a nearby yard before being bundled into the boot of his own car and driven to the murder scene, where he was blasted in the face at point blank range.

Seales, formerly of Ballykeel Road, Hillsborough, is serving a minimum 15-year prison term for the killing.

His co-accused Stephen McCaughey, 27, from Shackleton Walk in Newtownards, was ordered to spend at least 10 years in jail for the shooting.

Two of Mr Seales’ sons, Ian and Jason Weir, of Derryboye Road and Raffery Road, near Killinchy, County Down, pleaded guilty to the murder.

During the trial Ian Weir placed his father at the scene of the attack, armed with a shotgun.

Lawyers for Seales have attacked the credibility of an account given by a son said to have had “a deep hatred” for him.

Following an unsuccessful appeal against the murder conviction earlier this year, they mounted a fresh application for leave to go before the Supreme Court.

Brian McCartney QC argued that the trial jury received insufficient directions on how to deal with evidence from an accomplice.

He raised issues about Ian Weir’s testimony being given outside the terms of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act - legislation which deals with assisting offenders.

Mounting the application at the Court of Appeal on Friday, Mr McCartney asked: “Did the trial judge inadvertently give an impression that this accomplice would not receive any discount and did the jury then accept his evidence had greater strength?”

However, Lord Justice Gillen, sitting with Lord Justice Coghlin and Mr Justice Deeny, refused to authorise the case for Supreme Court consideration.

He confirmed: “We have come to the conclusion that there’s no basis for certifying a point of general public importance in this matter.”

The verdict effectively shuts the door to mounting a Supreme Court appeal.

Seales’ legal team is now understood to be examining whether to go to Europe to claim he was denied a fair trial.