UK News Electronic Telegraph
Saturday 21 June 1997
Issue 757

Judges free man jailed over IRA funeral murders
By Colin Randall

A MAN with a mental age of 11 was freed yesterday from a life sentence for involvement in the murder of two Army corporals who were attacked by a mob at an IRA funeral procession.

Patrick Kane's conviction was quashed by the Appeal Court in Belfast after three judges ruled that his mental and psychological state undermined the admissibility and reliability of confessions made to police. Mr Kane, 39, was not in court as friends and relatives cheered and applauded the decision, announced by Lord Justice McCollum. The van taking him to court from the Maze prison was held up in traffic.

After his release, he said: "I have been in jail for nearly nine years for something I had nothing to do with. I suppose the courts are going to say they gave me justice today. Justice should have been nine years ago. I should never have done a day in jail."

His father, Barney, said his son had never been involved in any terrorist organisation. "We knew all along that Patrick was innocent and that kept us going," he said. "You could say that today has restored my faith in justice."

Mr Kane was jailed with Michael Timmons and Sean Kelly for aiding and abetting the IRA's murder of Corporals Derek Wood, 24, and David Howes, 23, in Andersonstown, west Belfast, in March 1988.

The Army said the soldiers had strayed into the funeral procession of an IRA member killed when a loyalist gunman attacked mourners during the burial of three would-be bombers shot dead by the SAS in Gibraltar. The corporals were dragged from their car, beaten, stripped and shot dead.

The convicted men became known as the "Casement Three" because it was alleged that they were in the Casement sports ground when the soldiers were set upon before being shot by the IRA. The courts held that they were guilty of murder on the "common purpose" principle.

Mr Kane's case was featured in a BBC Television Rough Justice programme alleging that he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice. It was referred back to the Appeal Court by Lord Mayhew, then Northern Ireland Secretary, after doubts were raised about his confession.

Lord Justice McCollum said the Appeal Court was influenced by evidence from Dr Gisli Gudjonsson, a Norwegian forensic psychologist. He said the trial judge may not have admitted Mr Kane's confession if he had heard this evidence.

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