Paddy McCourt

Paddy McCourt

Ciarán Shiels, of Madden & Finucane Solicitors, has represented former Celtic Star and International Northern Ireland soccer player Patrick McCourt since he was charged in relation to an allegation of sexual assault on a woman in Derry nightclub, Bar 57, said to have occurred in the early hours of 30th January 2022.

After a two day hearing in May 2023, Mr McCourt was convicted by a Deputy District Judge presiding alone without a jury. He was later sentenced to 3 months imprisonment suspended for 2 years. He was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for a period of 5 years.

At the sentencing hearing at Derry District Judges’ Court on 10th July 2023, we confirmed that we did not accept Mr McCourt’s conviction and we would be appealing the Court’s decision.

Ciarán Shiels said today:

“Tomorrow marks the commencement of a two-day appeal against conviction in respect of our client Patrick McCourt. This will involve a full re-hearing and a close forensic examination of the evidence that was given in the lower Court as well as the reasoning of the Magistrate in his judgment convicting Mr McCourt.

“Our position is that a grave miscarriage of justice occurred in Derry District Court earlier this year. This situation requires the Courts to urgently correct this position.

“Extremely serious allegations will be made in respect of the conduct of the PSNI in relation to this case.

“We will contend that Patrick McCourt was not investigated in relation to an allegation of sexual assault. We will be submitting to the Court that Patrick McCourt was treated entirely differently to any other suspect or defendant appearing before our Courts and that he personally was actively targeted, and thereafter, single-mindedly pursued by the Police Service of Northern Ireland for conviction.

“Our contention will be firstly that we accept the Injured Party in this case was the victim of a sexual assault. We believe this young woman was assaulted on a night out and it was disgraceful that this occurred. The victim did nothing to deserve or provoke what happened to her.

“However, the victim at no point said that Mr McCourt assaulted her. She did not see and could not identify her attacker, but what she was sure about was that the individual was standing behind her when he touched her. We will contend that she was largely correct in her evidence. Mr McCourt never at any time stood behind her. However, another individual was standing behind her. He was clearly seen on the CCTV that was seized. His identity was made known to police and we made representations that police must, as an imperative speak to that individual under caution and as a matter of urgency. This contention was in fact echoed and supported by the local Resident District Judge Mr McElholm at one of Mr McCourt remand hearings. That individual was allowed to leave the country apparently to take up residence in Australia a year ago.

“We will further contend that the lower Court’s flawed decision flowed as the direct result of a biased, incompetent, indolent and grossly inadequate investigation, the object of which was to see Patrick McCourt, convicted, with his good name and reputation destroyed at all costs, even if that meant that the true culprit would escape justice. We say that forensic avenues available to police to get to the truth of the matter were ignored and squandered. We will state that important forensic results in relation to DNA analysis carried out, we simply ignored when they confirmed Mr McCourt had not been in contact with the victim’s clothing and underclothing, then jettisoned when an unidentified male’s DNA was in fact found.

“Our contention will additionally be that the eyewitness testimony of the barmaid, who is the only witness who purports to have witnessed Mr McCourt touch the victim, is now so beset with evidential difficulties, contradictions and implausibility as to render it useless. That individual wrote to the PPS and the Court months ago saying she had withdrawn her cooperation with the PSNI and the PPS.

“Moreover, the recent decision of the bar owners to refuse the defence’s expert consultant engineer even the briefest of access to take measurements and photograph the important positions of witnesses and their spatial relationship to the accused and the victim was gravely disappointing and to further render so as to be non-existent, any possibility of Mr McCourt receiving a fair trial consistent with his rights under the European Convention.

“We will additionally submit that the PSNI imperative of targeting Mr McCourt even went to the extent of obtaining a RIPA warrant on him from New Year’s Eve 2022 in the effort that some evidence might turn up somewhere that could be of assistance in seeing him convicted.

“We will finally contend that all of this litany of unfairness, bias and incompetence received the full imprimatur and endorsement of the Public Prosecution Service in their decision to direct a prosecution and to continue to prosecute Mr McCourt.

“Tomorrow is an important day. It will be mark the commencement of Paddy McCourt appearing before a highly experienced Criminal Judge of the Crown Court, who will consider all of these matters afresh. It will also mark the commencement of a process that we submit must end with this conviction being quashed publicly and this man’s innocence and good reputation being restored to him, and indeed to his family.”