Belfast Telegraph

Devlin parents seek meeting over PPS

The parents of Thomas Devlin have said they are urgently seeking a meeting with the Attorney General over how the Public Prosecution Service handled their son’s murder.

They have criticised Baroness Scotland for backing the actions of the PPS, describing her comments as “unhelpful”.

Jim Devlin and Penny Holloway criticised the PPS for its original decision not to prosecute the two men, Nigel Brown and Gary Taylor, who were last week convicted of killing the north Belfast teenager.

Lawyers and senior politicians have called for a root-and-branch review of the PPS.

But Baroness Scotland defended the PPS handling of the case and dismissed suggestions that the service had been too cautious.

Penny Holloway said the Attorney General “should carry out her function of superintendence” and said she would be seeking a meeting with her to discuss the case.

A spokesman for the Attorney General declined to comment.

The Devlin family are set to meet with the PPS in the coming weeks after a row broke out after the conviction of Brown and Taylor on Wednesday.

The family have spoken of their frustration at the original PPS decision on evidence against Nigel Brown, 26, and Gary Taylor, 23, who both denied killing Thomas.

The PPS confirmed it will be meeting with the Devlin family in the coming weeks to “discuss the issues of concern to them at a mutually convenient date”.

North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness, a barrister, has called for a “complete overhaul” of the PPS in light of their handling of the Devlin case.

He said: “There is need now to examine how the PPS comes to its decisions in relation to serious criminal prosecutions.

“There needs to be an explanation of what happened in this case and a new system must be put in place that is transparent to the public.

“It is timely that on the eve of the transfer of policing and justice powers that the PPS has come under focus and there is an opportunity for the Assembly to look in depth at its operations.”

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said he was deeply concerned about the Devlin family’s experience with the PPS.

“I am sad and appalled by what has happened. Obviously the PPS is an independent body, but this has raised serious issues for the public and the public need to be reassured that there is no question that criminal suspects are being actively pursued.”

The Devlin family have said that the case against Thomas’ killers only came to trial because of the pressure they put on the PPS to change the original decision.

Thomas’ mother Penny Holloway said that the family’s grief had been compounded by the “spectacular, public and abysmally abject failure of the PPS to properly carry out its functions in this case”.

She added: “We have been fully vindicated in our belief that the original decision of the PPS not to charge Taylor and Brown was wrong.”

Devlin Court report: See page 7

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