Belfast Telegraph

Men jailed two years ago for taxi robbery have their convictions quashed

Compensation sought as it emerges 'victim' withdrew their statement before or during the trial

Two men jailed for attempted robbery of a taxi driver are to have their convictions quashed, the Court of Appeal ruled today.

Senior judges overturned the guilty verdicts after being told the alleged victim withdrew his statement of complaint.

The development was not disclosed to lawyers for defendants Christopher Millar and Marc McClenaghan during the trial process.

Both men are now expected to seek compensation for their time served in prison.

The alleged robbery attempt took place during a taxi ride in Co Down in March 2011.

At Downpatrick Crown Court in March 2011 Mr Millar, 25, of St Columbas Vale in Newtownards, was sentenced to ten months in jail and another 14 months in licence.

Mr McClenaghan, of The Moatlands, Ballyhalbert, was also ordered to serve a term of imprisonment.

But unknown to their legal teams, the alleged victim had by this stage withdrawn his statement.

It only emerged in a subsequent Parole Commissioners' dossier.

In court today counsel for the Public Prosecution Service stressed that the statement had not been deliberately withheld.

It was accepted, however, that the fairness of the trial process had been affected.

On that basis the three judge panel, chaired by Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, ruled that both convictions should be quashed and no retrial ordered.

Following the outcome Mr Millar's lawyer, Paul McNickle of McConnell Kelly & Co, indicated further legal action was likely.

He said: "We will be considering a possible compensation application for the period of time our client wrongly spent in custody."

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