Murderers seeking to use legal ruling to get convictions quashed
Some of Northern Ireland's most notorious murders are set to feature in a potentially landmark bid to have their convictions quashed.
Appeal judges will examine at least five cases in September based on a Supreme Court ruling on the interpretation of the joint enterprise law.
Those mounting renewed challenges include one of the men jailed for the fatal knife attack on north Belfast schoolboy Thomas Devlin, and a man who was imprisoned over the killing of Ballymena teenager Michael McIlveen.
A similar legal attempt is being mounted by a man convicted of murdering hospital porter David Hamilton, who was bludgeoned to death in east Belfast.
Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan confirmed yesterday that two days had been set aside to hear arguments.
Defence lawyers want each of the cases re-examined following a new finding on a law that allowed people to be convicted of murder even if they did not inflict the fatal blow.
In February, the Supreme Court held that joint enterprise had been wrongly applied for more than 30 years.
The ruling, which was reached in the case of Ameen Jogee for the murder of former Leicestershire policeman Paul Fyfe in 2011, could pave the way for hundreds of appeals.
One of those seeking to rely on the verdict is Nigel Brown, who is serving a minimum 20-year prison sentence for killing Thomas Devlin in August 2005.The fifteen-year-old was stabbed to death close to his home in north Belfast. His friend, Jonathan McKee, was also attacked and stabbed in the stomach.
The killers struck on the Somerton Road as the young victims were walking back from a shop.
Another convicted murderer attempting to rely on the ruling is Mark Kincaid (34).
He is seeking to reopen his appeal over being found guilty of killing David Hamilton in 2004. The victim was battered about the head with blunt objects at his flat in Belfast's Ballybeen estate.
Kincaid was one of three men convicted of the murder, but he has continued to protest his innocence.
Other convictions will also be scrutinised at the hearing in September, where guidance may be issued on how such cases should be handled in future.