‘Not guilty’ verdicts after PIRA charges are dropped

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Two men and two women due to stand trial charged with arranging Provisional IRA meetings walked free from court yesterday after the prosecution offered “no evidence” against them.

As a result, Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland entered “not guilty” verdicts against Padraic Connor Wilson, James Gerard Seamus Finucane, Briege Wright and Agnes McCrory.

Padraic Wilson, 53, of Hamill Park, Andersonstown Road, Belfast, was the only one of the four accused who was present in the public gallery at Belfast Crown Court to hear the verdicts.

The charges allegedly concerned several meetings held by the Provisionals in the late 1990s and 2000.

The case had been listed yesterday for mention only.

However, prosecuting counsel Kate McKay asked Judge McFarland that the charges “be left on the books and not to be proceeded”.

But defence counsel Mark Mulholland QC said in the case last month of his client Martin Edward Morris, 49, of Welbeck Road, London, the prosecution offered no evidence against him on a charge of membership of the PIRA.

“In the light of that decision, we say that the prosecution in this case should offer no evidence in the same terms.”

Ms McKay told the court that the prosecution was now “not offering evidence” against the four accused.

As a result, the Belfast Recorder said he would enter “not guilty verdict” against Wilson, Finucane, Wright and McCrory.

Ms McKay added that the prosecution was also not “offering any evidence” against Martin Edward Morris, who was awaiting trial on separate charges. He had been accused of four counts of rape, four counts of indecent assault on a child, three of gross indecency to a child and two indecent assaults on a female.

Morris had denied the charges.

The Belfast Recorder said that as a result of the prosecution decision, he would enter “not guilty verdicts” on all 13 charges faced by Morris.