Legal challenge over decision to charge man with McCauley murder
A 25-year-old man has started a legal challenge to a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions to charge him with the murder of Paul McCauley, the Catholic civil servant who died in June of last year, nine years after he was assaulted in a sectarian attack.
Before his death Mr McCauley remained in a permanent vegetative state caused by head injuries he received when he and a group of friends were attacked by a 15-strong loyalist gang.
He and his friends were attending a barbecue in the garden of a house at Chapel Road in the Waterside area of Londonderry when they were attacked on July 16, 2006.
Weeks after Mr McCauley's death in June 2015, Piper John McClements was charged with his murder, an offence he denies.
The defendant received a 12-year sentence in February 2009 after he pleaded guilty to causing Mr McCauley grievous bodily injury with intent. He was released after he'd served half of the sentence and while in custody he changed his name by deed poll from Daryl Proctor to Piper McClements.
He is one of two men currently on bail charged with murdering Mr McCauley. At the magistrates' court in Derry yesterday the defendant's barrister Donal Sayers started a legal challenge against the decision to charge his client with Mr McCauley's murder.
Mr Sayers said his challenge was two-fold. He argued that the person who gave consent to launch the murder proceedings against the defendant should have been the Attorney General John Larkin and not the Director of the Public Prosecution Service Barra McGrory.
Mr Sayers said the second part of his legal challenge for a no bill in the case was when the consent to prosecute the defendant should have been given.
He said his client was charged with Mr McCauley's murder on July 17 of last year when he arrived at a police station as part of his licence conditions.
Mr Sayers said the defendant was arrested and charged with Mr McCauley's murder without a warrant having been issued for his arrest.
The barrister said the murder proceedings had therefore started against the defendant only after he was informed of the nature of the charge and argued that without a warrant that was a mistake.
He said the PSNI and the PPS did not have the relevant consent to charge the defendant with the murder. Mr Sayers said the correct procedural process had therefore not been followed before the defendant was charged with murdering Mr McCauley.
Opposing the no bill application, barrister Tony McGleenan QC said the two main issues were who was the appropriate person to give consent for the prosecution of the defendant for the murder and when did that process formally start.
He submitted that the Director of Public Prosecutions Mr McGrory was the appropriate person and not the Attorney General as argued by the defence.
Mr McGleenan said the decision to charge the defendant with the murder was only taken after the appropriate scrutiny had been undertaken by the PPS and the PSNI and the decision to proceed with the murder charge was arrived at following the appropriate joint engagement between the PSNI and the PPS.
District Judge Barney McElholm said he would adjourn the hearing for two weeks and at that stage he hoped to be in a position to announce the date when he would give his formal ruling on the hearing.
He said he was anxious to do so as soon as possible in ease of the defendant and in ease of the McCauley family.