Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

YouTube video clips to be allowed in dissident trial

Youtube video clips which allegedly show a Co Tyrone man at a dissident republican gathering can be admitted as evidence at his criminal trial, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Aidan Quinn has pleaded not guilty to a charge of assisting in managing a meeting of members of a proscribed organisation.

The charge against the 24-year-old, of Aghafad Road, Pomeroy, relates to a Continuity IRA Easter commemoration at Edendork, Dungannon in March 2008.

At the start of his original trial, two video clips on which the Crown case depended were ruled inadmissible.

But senior judges yesterday allowed an appeal by the Public Prosecution Service on the basis that a prima facie case had been established for admission of potentially relevant material.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan ordered that a fresh Crown Court trial should now proceed.

Police launched an investigation into the event after two masked men were filmed making a declaration and firing two shots from a handgun.

The prosecution alleged that Quinn is identified standing beside the masked men, holding a document and a microphone to the speaker.

He was arrested in June 2009 and during two interviews his solicitor intervened when Quinn was asked about what could be seen on the video clips.

The lawyer said that identification from the clips was not an issue as his client had said he was at the event. Quinn remained silent during these comments.

Ruling on the appeal, Sir Declan said it would be for the trial judge to determine whether or not any inference can be drawn from his silence.

Sir Declan added that there was no evidence of continuity from the time when the film was made until it was loaded on YouTube.

At no stage during interviews did Quinn expressly acknowledge or accept that he was the person shown in the video clips.

Quotes

Sir Declan Morgan, sitting with Lord Justices Higgins and Coghlin, said: "If there is an admission that the video clips portray the actions of the defendant the clips are admissible as real evidence for the purpose of establishing that to which [he] has admitted. The admissibility of the evidence does not strictly depend, therefore, on the authenticity of the video."

"We consider that for the reasons set out the prosecution have established a prima facie case for the admission of this potentially relevant material."

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