Peter Robinson: my jail visit to killer who says he’s innocent
Northern Ireland’s First Minister has made a prison visit to a convicted murderer who claims he is the victim of a miscarriage of justice.
Peter Robinson said he had been asked by a pastor to visit Mark Kincaid in Maghaberry Prison.
Kincaid was given a life sentence for the murder of David Hamilton in 2004. Mr Hamilton (44) lay dying for hours after he was viciously beaten in a flat in the Ballybeen estate in east Belfast.
Mr Robinson said of the visit: “I have obviously heard from the local area, the views of many people as to who was responsible for the murder, and I thought it was valuable to have a conversation with him.”
Kincaid was one of three men convicted of the killing.
He is three years into a sentence of at least 16 years. The Court of Appeal upheld his conviction more than a year ago, but lawyers at Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) will look at the case again to decide whether it will be treated as a possible miscarriage of justice.
Mr Robinson said he believed there were a number of features about the case “which would make one uneasy about the verdict and make you look at it again. It isn't for me or for you to determine whether Mark is guilty or not guilty”.
“I think, ultimately, that would be a matter for the court, but I think there are sufficient issues in this case to cause the criminal case review commission to look at it again.”
Kincaid's mother, Ellen Foulis, has held several rallies to protest her son's innocence.
“I can't go into a whole lot of detail about what has been recovered but the new solicitor has recovered new evidence and that is why it is allowed back to the CCRC,” she said.
Mr Robinson has denied that his visit to Maghaberry is anything to do with the upcoming Assembly election campaign.
He said: “I think you know well enough that, if anything, it would be a negative impact in terms of justice issues, so it clearly has no impact from my point of view.”