Belfast Telegraph

Family of stab victim in pleas challenge

The family of a man stabbed to death have won High Court permission to challenge decisions to accept pleas to lesser offences than murder.

A judge granted leave to seek a judicial review of police and Public Prosecution Service practices and policies in dealing with those accused over Gerard Devlin's killing in west Belfast.

Even though Mr Justice Treacy identified delays in bringing the challenge, he ruled that the issues raised merited further exploration.

He said: “I am satisfied there is an arguable case and there are good reasons for extending the period in which this application can be made.”

A full hearing of the legal challenge will now take place in June.

Mr Devlin was stabbed during a street fight outside his Ballymurphy home in February 2006.

Francisco Notarantonio (23) of Whitecliff Parade, Belfast, was later jailed for 11 years after admitting a charge of manslaughter.

Lawyers for Aine McMahon, Mr Devlin’s partner, who brought judicial review proceedings, criticised the failure to consult with the family before the suspects’ lesser pleas were accepted.

Outside the court Mr Devlin's family were encouraged by the preliminary ruling.

The dead man's mother, Mary Devlin, said: “This is the first step on the road to justice.

“It's not just for my son, but for other cases, all those people who feel wronged by the PPS and the judicial system.”

Belfast Telegraph

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