Belfast Telegraph

Delays over forensic tests in Northern Ireland 'a disgrace' says High Court Judge

Investigative authorities involved in preparing criminal cases in Northern Ireland need to "drag themselves into the 21st century", a High Court judge said today.

Mr Justice Weir described the delays over forensic testing as a "disgrace" and questioned why politicians have not intervened.

His criticisms came as bail was refused to a man accused of having cannabis and amphetamines with intent to supply.

James Lynch (29) was charged after being arrested by police trying to search his Dunclug Park home in Ballymena, Co Antrim on July 2.

It was claimed that he locked his door and then threw a bag out a kitchen window.

The bag was recovered and found to contain suspected cannabis and amphetamines with an estimated street value of £5,000.

Lynch denies the drugs charges and claimed £615 in cash seized from him was due to a win at the bookies and the sale of jewellery.

Bail was denied, however, due to the risk of further offences.

During the hearing it emerged that tests from a previous seizure in April are still outstanding.

Mr Justice Weir commented that material seems to pile up once sent to Forensic Science NI's laboratory in Carrickfergus.

"It's causing enormous delays in criminal cases," he said.

"Why some of our politicians don't do something about this state of affairs at the forensic laboratory I just don't understand."

According to his assessment nothing has been done about previous judicial comment on the situation.

He stressed that police could send material to other UK laboratories.

"In England you can get a serious murder case and you can get a prosecution within a year," the judge pointed out.

"Here the police would still be thinking about putting their file together."

Mr Justice Weir added: "It's about time really that the investigative authorities in this country dragged themselves into the 21st century.

"The amount of time taken up in investigation, putting together simple cases is, I think, nothing short of a disgrace."

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