Belfast Telegraph

Court must wait for Jean McConville suspect file

By John Cassidy

A veteran republican charged over the murder of Jean McConville has been examined by a consultant psychiatrist on behalf of the Public Prosecution Service, a court has heard.

But a Crown prosecutor told Mr Justice Treacy that Dr Jim Anderson's report on his examination of Ivor Bell will not be available until next week.

Last month Mr Justice Treacy ordered that Bell's notes and medical records be handed to the prosecution within seven days to assist in the examination by Dr Anderson.

Bell (80), of Ramoan Gardens in west Belfast, has yet to be formally arraigned on two charges in connection with the mother-of-10's murder almost 45 years ago.

Bell faces two counts of soliciting the IRA abduction and murder of Mrs McConville from her home at Divis flats in west Belfast in December 1972.

His legal team had previously told Belfast Crown Court that Bell had been diagnosed with vascular dementia and would not be able to fully participate in his trial.

The proceedings have faced ongoing delays to allow Bell to be examined by Dublin-based consultant Dr Kennedy on whether he was fit or not to plead to the charges.

There was also a delay in March this year over an expert in Belfast who had earlier indicated that she did not usually undertake medical legal work outside of the National Health Service. The court heard that the prosecution had also retained the service of an "old age specialist'' doctor to have Bell examined to see if he was fit to enter a plea and stand trial.

Yesterday, Ciaran Murphy QC, prosecuting, told Mr Justice Treacy: "Dr Jim Anderson was retained by the prosecution in this matter. He has now seen him (Ivor Bell). He is preparing his report but it is not ready just yet and it will be available next week. I have discussed with Mr Hutton (Bell's defence barrister) about matters that may arise from that. We will serve Dr Anderson's report on both the court and the defence next week.''

With the agreement of Mr Hutton, the judge adjourned the hearing until June 2.

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