Belfast Telegraph

Liam Adams' jury 'was not given guidance for widespread media coverage'

By Suzanne Breen

The jury which found Gerry Adams's brother guilty of raping his own daughter wasn't properly directed on dealing with the widespread publicity surrounding the case, the Court of Appeal has heard.

A barrister for Liam Adams said the extensive media coverage, because of his family link to the Sinn Fein president, had made his case a "national issue" even before he went on trial.

Eilis McDermott QC claimed that guidance to the jury may have wrongly shifted the burden onto Liam Adams to prove he was innocent of a catalogue of sexual assaults on his daughter Aine.

Dressed in a red check shirt and dark jeans and using a walking stick, Adams (59) nodded and smiled from the dock at his wife Bronagh and other relatives in the public gallery. In November 2013 at Belfast Crown Court, Judge Corinne Philpott sentenced him to 16 years in prison for raping and sexually abusing Aine from 1977 to 1983 from when she was four years old until she was nine.

A month earlier, a jury of nine men and three women had found Adams, formerly of Bearnagh Drive in west Belfast, guilty by an 11 to one majority. He has denied the allegations.

Ms McDermott said one ground for the challenge was the trial judge's alleged failure to direct the jury on how they should assess issues about the extensive publicity before and after the first trial in April 2013, which collapsed due to legal reasons.

Gerry Adams was called as a prosecution witness at the first trial but not at the second.

Ms McDermott argued that there wasn't a sufficient "fade factor" between the aborted case and the second trial and that it seemed impossible for jurors in the second trial not to be aware of the original one.

She also told Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, sitting with Lord Justices Coghlin and Gillen, about a UTV documentary in 2009 detailing Aine's allegations against her father.

Ms McDermott claimed that Judge Philpott hadn't dealt with the issue of publicity other than by the "standard form" of telling the jury not to read about the case or discuss it with anyone other than fellow jurors.

The appeal continues today.

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