Amongst forensic scientists one rule is paramount.
"Garbage in equals garbage out." The
meaning is clear even to the most unscientific
of laymen. Items must be properly collected, segregated
and bagged. Contamination whether deliberate or
negligent will rubbish the results of any forensic
tests, generating worthless trash to be binned.
British have been generous with examples. Paraffin
tests for gunshot residue on the clothing of Bloody
Sunday victims were rubbished because the items
had been handled and contaminated by British troopers
who fired shots. The nightmare of the "Birmingham
Six" began with a credentialed English scientist
neglecting to exclude varnish or playing cards
as the source triggering the false positive he
mistook for explosives.
the Diplock judge presiding in the trial of Sean
Hoey has directed an investigation into the conduct
of senior crown constables who trampled upon this
paramount rule of forensic evidence and then conspired
to cover-up their framework. Already any testimony
which was to link the accused to Omagh has been
excluded by the crown judge. Tampering with evidence
has been both admitted and proven by photographs.
The forensic framework has appeared to unravel
witness by witness.
the Diplock court ignore the evidence and convict
on the belief that the crown constables would
not have gone to such lengths to frame an innocent
man? Will the boasts of crown constables that
there was nothing to stop them from jailing Mr.
Hoey on planted DNA evidence be proven true, even
as their testimony has been proven false?
crown case was seriously compromised years before
Mr. Hoey was charged. Sean Hoey was picked up
and interrogated in September 1998, June 1999
and July 2003, before being charged and held without
bail in September 2003. Several crucial events
occurred. Constables boasted during this interrogation
that there was nothing to stop them from planting
forensic evidence to jail Mr. Hoey, despite his
denials and account of his whereabouts. Constables
confiscated clothes, toothbrushes, combs, and
eating utensils, which would provide samples of
My Hoey's DNA as well as the means to make good
on their threats.
seized a number of rolls of black tape, used by
Mr. Hoey in his work as an electrician. Pieces
of this tape would later surface "Houdini-like"
as the judge described, in a sealed evidence bag,
and would be acknowledged by one of the chief
crown forensic scientists as a possible source
of DNA tainting other exhibits in the case.
threats about planting DNA became more ominous
after the September 2002 arrest of Martin Brogan
and Mark Carroll. At a press conference the PSNI
pronounced both men guilty of possessing explosives,
which were in fact found miles away in sole possession
of a British agent. DNA was touted by the PSNI
as indisputable proof.
indisputable proof collapsed after Aidan Carlin
of solicitor Kevin Winter's office, visited the
lab unexpectedly and found documentation that
British army personnel had unsealed the bags containing
Brogan and Carroll's clothing and rubbed the items
with gloves containing traces of explosives. A
second document detailed instructions to the scientists
about falsifying the results of forensic tests
to make a case.
one was prosecuted, demoted or disciplined for
a blatant conspiracy to frame innocent Irishmen.
The crown's imprimatur was clear. DNA and forensics
was to take the place of confessions under torture
or supergrass evidence as the grease of the Diplock
court conveyor belt.
crown case against Sean Hoey would consist almost
exclusively of forensic evidence. DNA and fibers
would be offered to link Sean Hoey to a number
of the charged incidents. The unique design of
these devices would operate like a signature linking
Mr. Hoey to Omagh and the remaining incidents
charged. Additionally an English expert Frederica
Holmes would claim that she had listened to a
tape of a telephone call made by Mr. Hoey from
Maghaberry and identify it as the same voice which
had called to give warnings.
defense contended that any DNA link between Mr.
Hoey and any incident was either planted from
the items seized at Mr. Hoey's home or tainted
because the items were negligently mixed together.
Moreover, neither the accent nor voice on the
warning was Mr. Hoey's, much it might sound so
to Ms Holmes' English ears. This case would not
be a walkover with counsel intimidated by the
number of charges. This case said lead solicitor,
Peter Corrigan, was a forensic frame-up.
crown case began to unravel almost from the start.
British Army officers provided photographs of
a timer used in Lisburn. The Lisburn timer was
supposed to provide DNA evidence and establish
a signature link between Mr. Hoey and the devices
used in the other incidents.
the defense barrister pointed out a piece of black
tape on the device which matched the rolls of
tape taken from Mr. Hoey's home in September 1998.
Earlier photographs and testimony proved that
there had been no black tape on the item when
it was collected. How had black tape taken from
Mr. Hoey's home in 1998 with his DNA made its
way onto bagged and sealed evidence? The judge
said the tape had appeared "Houdini-like"
referring to the famous American magician who
had staged escapes through impenetrable locks
and chains. Had the British had tampered with
the evidence? With characteristic English regard
for semantics, the British officer quibbled that
the evidence may have been "forensically
altered", although the distinction between
altering and tampering with evidence is difficult
was a devastating blow. The crown had been caught
offering planted or "forensically altered"
evidence. Tape from Mr. Hoey's home had been stuck
onto a timer power unit and lunch box in which
it was enclosed, to create a DNA link to Lisburn
and a signature link to other incidents.
to explain the tape away backfired on the crown.
A PSNI witness, Michael Hannigan said that in
1998 items were sometimes stored un-bagged, lying
next to other items in the evidence store. Perhaps
the tape was transferred in this way. Mr. Hoey's
barrister, Orlando Pownall, jumped on that claim
and asked could not all items have been contaminated
with DNA or fibers lying next to each other in
the store room "Totally", Hanningan
was forced to admit. His admission seemed to "totally"
destroy the crown's case.
scientist Dennis McAuley would be forced to admit
that Mr. Hoey's DNA may have been transferred
onto evidence negligently when tape taken from
Mr. Hoey's home was compared to tape recovered
from charged incidents. The paramount rule "Garbage
in equals garbage out," would rubbish all
crown exhibits whether the contamination had been
deliberate or negligent. The crown intended to
present a DNA link to Lisburn and then a signature
link to other incidents. It presented instead
proof constables had planted evidence with the
signature link of such planted or tainted evidence,
contaminating every other item of evidence in
this case. At a minimum, if McAuley and Hannigans
tortured explanation were to be believed, then
the crown's evidence had been irretrievably contaminated
when tape and items seized from Mr. Hoey's home
were negligently stored alongside evidence collected
at the scenes of various incidents charged.
would the crown fabricate evidence about Lisburn
if it had untainted evidence about other incidents?
How could witnesses who were prepared to frame
Mr. Hoey about Lisburn and perjure themselves
in order to do so, be credible about any charge
or incident in this case or any other?
planted black tape photographs were followed by
testimony about Altmore Forest. This testimony
would provoke the judge to order a perjury investigation
from the bench. Constables had been ordered to
re-write and falsify their witness statements,
deleting details consistent with innocence and
adding details making a case against Mr. Hoey.
The defense uncovered the originals.
Constabulary officer Fiona Cooper was confronted
with her original statement contradicting her
certified statement supplied to the court and
defense, she broke down in tears on the stand.
the weekend to compose herself, she returned with
a passport stamped Zambia covering the date of
her statement. Cooper said she had been ordered
to falsify her account and fingered her supervisor.
Such fabrications had been directed from above.
supervisor, a top PSNI officer Philip Marshall,
was shown his original statement which he had
denied ever making .He then blamed the Omagh investigation
team headed by PSNI Superintendent Baxter. A conspiracy
to commit perjury and falsify evidence went back
was supposed to provide another forensic link
to Mr. Hoey. Instead it provided a confession
from a top constable that he had falsified his
own statement and directed others to falsify evidence
admitting a cover-up which had been directed by
the top Omagh investigators. This testimony is
now being investigated for possible perjury. If
the top Omagh investigators were ordering supervising
constables to falsify evidence about Altmore and
conceal it by perjury, what other evidence or
testimony was falsified under their orders.
Following Cooper's break-down the voice analysis
testimony was dramatically withdrawn. Holmes had
also authored inconsistent statements on her identification
of Mr. Hoey's voice as that heard in a warning
call. Rather than face a cross-examination and
perhaps, like Fiona Cooper finger others for her
orders, she retracted her evidence and the crown
prosecutor withdrew her from the witness list..
jewel in the crown's case was the charges about
Omagh. Every news report identified the case as
the trial of the Omagh bomber. The key evidence
was to be the signature evidence that the other
devices linked to Mr. Hoey's DNA were so unique
that they must have been made by the same person
who constructed the Omagh device.
McAuley said he based his opinions on the wiring
and soldering. He was challenged to show his expertise
in this area and to show that there was any accepted
scientific basis for his claims. After an embarrassing
cross-examination of McAuley about the lack of
foundation for his opinions, the court summarily
excluded the testimony as mere guesswork, not
worthy of consideration. There would be nothing
to link Mr. Hoey to Omagh at the so-called Omagh
DNA findings, already undermined by evidence of
being deliberately planted or at minimum negligently
contaminated, would be further discredited. Crown
expert John Whitaker conceded that he had found
only Low Copy Number DNA. LCN DNA is not accepted
as reliable in American or most other courts.
Indeed there are only four laboratories, two in
England, one in the Netherlands and a fourth in
New Zealand, which would even accept the tests
used by Whitaker. All others would view the tests
as unreliable and the four are regarded as a tiny
minority of skeptics. Whitaker's had in fact identified
the DNA of a 14 year old English schoolboy as
part of the Omagh unit.
Whitaker is affiliated with the Forensic Science
Service which, he claimed was accredited by the
British Standards Institute. The defense then
submitted a letter from the BSI showing that neither
the FSS nor the LCN DNA tests were accredited
by them. Whitaker admitted his tests would not
be accepted in many courts.
Two experts Professor Dan Krane and Professor
Allan Jamison testified that LCN could give a
distorted result and was not scientifically reliable.
Moreover the miniscule amount of material makes
LCN DNA easily susceptible to taint and contamination.
McAuley's admission that there was a real possibility
of Mr. Hoey's DNA being transferred from the tape
to items in evidence, would be consistent with
a finding of LCN, DNA.
crown witnesses would reveal a litany of improprieties
further rubbishing the forensic evidence that
made up the entirety of the crown's case. A constable
testifying about a mortar attack at Newry barracks,
described the room where evidence was stored as
a "complete mess". Items often disappeared
or were not logged. At least five bomb timers
disappeared. Labels of stored evidence had been
changed or written-over by unknown persons who
apparently had unauthorized Houdini-like access
to the evidence. A detonator introduced into evidence
was acknowledged to have been missing for 5 years
and suddenly reappeared. .A forensic scientist,
Samantha Underwood, admitted that while gloves
were worn to prevent contamination of items, lab
coats were shared , re-used and cleaned only once
a week, which could have made them susceptible
to such LCN DNA contamination.
a case based entirely upon forensics, any contamination
of the potential evidence, whether deliberate
or negligent, would rubbish the results of any
forensic tests, as worthless trash to be discarded.
In a fair trial, it seems clear that the entire
crown prosecution of Sean Hoey should have long
ago been binned.
is a great deal at stake in the dock of the Belfast
Diplock courtroom .The British believe that with
58 charges, including Omagh, the deck has been
stacked too high for any Diplock judge to have
the courage and independence to acquit .The constabulary
bragged that nothing would stop them from jailing
Sean Hoey on planted forensics evidence. Can even
a Diplock court make good those boasts when the
evidence has been so completely discredited? Can
the crown establish a precedent for jailing Republicans
on fabricated forensic evidence much as Diplock
courts formerly used Castlereagh confessions under
torture or supergrass perjurers? Will others like
Declan McGlinchey be next? Will Republicans just
say no to any endorsement or fealty to the re-named
RUC who planted the evidence and perjured themselves
to cover-up their framework?