This morning, at Craigavon District Judges’ Court our client Drew King had charges of murdering the Sunday World journalist, Martin O’Hagan withdrawn by a Senior Prosecutor from the Public Prosecution Service.
Our client was charged in September 2008 on the basis of evidence provided by a witness known only as Witness “A” to the media. This individual provided his first statement to the PSNI Retrospective Murder Review Unit in July 2007. For the last 21 months we have been continually raising issues about the credibility and reliability of Witness “A” who has a criminal record going back almost half a century. We have had serious concerns about the PPS relying on his evidence in circumstances were no other evidence at all connected our client to the offence.
As a result of a series of disclosure applications aimed at determining what evidence the Public Prosecution Service were seeking to rely upon, at our client’s recent remand hearings, this week the PPS finally admitted in writing, almost two years on from the date of charge, that no decision had been taken to prosecute Drew King.
In addition, they further confirmed in writing that they were “presently unable to indicate whether Witness “A” will be a prosecution witness at any trial of your client”.
Mr King’s solicitor, Ciarán Shiels from Madden & Finucane, said today:
“It is a matter of huge concern that any defendant should have been charged and remanded in custody to Maghaberry Prison on the basis of statements of a witness so lacking in credibility. “Witness A”s allegations were uncorroborated by any other form of evidence whether it be forensic, identification or admissions made in interview. When making decisions in the future to charge citizens with offences, particularly serious offences, the PPS must do so with much more care than was exhibited in this case.”
As a result of the application, charges were also withdrawn against co-accused Nigel Lecky, Robin King and Mark Kennedy. A Preliminary Enquiry in relation to the final defendant, Neil Hyde is currently listed for 13th August 2010.