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Crown case in the Thomas Devlin trial ‘smoke and mirrors’

By Deborah McAleese

The prosecution case against the man accused of stabbing schoolboy Thomas Devlin to death is nothing more than a “grim fairytale” based on “smoke and mirrors”, his defence lawyer has claimed.

Defence barrister John Orr QC told a jury at Belfast Crown Court that the case against Gary Ryan Taylor is based on “theory and supposition” with no DNA, forensic, fingerprint or eye-witness evidence.

Taylor remained impassive throughout yesterday’s hearing, during which Mr Orr told the court that Thomas Devlin’s death was a “brutal, savage and motiveless murder” of a boy “who did absolutely nothing to deserve the fate that befell him”.

But Mr Orr told the jury that the case against Taylor is only circumstantial and that there was no evidence that would enable a jury to convict him.

It is the prosecution case that Taylor was armed with a knife when he and his co-accused Nigel Brown launched an unprovoked attack on 15-year-old Thomas and his two friends, Jonathan McKee and Fintan Maguire, as they walked along the Somerton Road in north Belfast in August 2005.

Brown has already pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to cause Mr McKee grievous bodily harm with intent. Both Brown and Taylor deny murdering Thomas.

Yesterday Mr Orr told the court: “There are no admissions from Taylor, no forensic evidence, no eye-witnesses that identify him as being on the Somerton Road. The Crown case is all based on smoke and mirrors. It is very weak on evidence but it is very strong on theory.”

Taylor and Brown were captured on CCTV footage shortly before the murder leaving Ross House flats in the Mount Vernon estate where they both lived at the time. They were then spotted returning to the flats a short time after the killing.

The court heard that Taylor told police that on exiting the flats he left Brown and went with two other friends to a nearby car park to smoke cannabis. When quizzed by police, neither of the two alibi witnesses were prepared to make a statement.

Mr Orr told the court that Taylor’s claim that he went with the two friends to smoke cannabis “is not something that is so ridiculous that it could not have happened.”

Last week Taylor and Brown chose not to take to the witness stand to testify on their own behalf. Taylor (23), from Mountcollyer Avenue in Belfast, appeared to doze off as Judge Mr Justice McLaughlin began to sum the case up for the jury.

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