Belfast Telegraph

Robert Hamill murder: PPS seeks judicial review in bid to prosecute two men and woman

The Public Prosecution Service has launched a High Court bid to reinstate criminal proceedings against two men and a woman in connection with the Robert Hamill murder.

Its challenge is centred on the decision to halt conspiracy to pervert the course of justice charges faced by the trio, who included a former RUC officer and his wife.

Proceedings were stayed by a district judge earlier this year due to the perceived unreliability of a key witness in the case.

Now the PPS is seeking to have that decision judicially reviewed.

Mr Hamill was beaten to death by a loyalist mob in Portadown, Co Armagh in 1997. He never regained consciousness, dying in hospital 12 days later.

RUC officers in the area at the time have been accused of failing to intervene in the assault.

One of those in a Landrover at the scene was Robert Cecil Atkinson.

The 59-year-old and his wife Eleanor Atkinson, with an address at Brownstown Road, Portadown, had both been accused of conspiring to pervert the course of justice in connection with the investigation into the killing.

Similar allegations were made against another man, Kenneth Hanvey of Derryanvil Road in the town.  

All three defendants had denied the claims against them.

In July District Judge Mervyn Bates stayed their cases on an abuse of process.

He ruled that the evidence from a woman who was the central witness was so unreliable that a jury could not convict on it.

His verdict is under challenge by the PPS, with the case due to be heard next month.

During a preliminary mention today counsel for the Prosecution Service, Tony McGleenan QC, expressed confidence in clearing the first hurdle of establishing an arguable case.

"It's not expected that there will be controversy about the granting of leave (to seek a judicial review) in this case," he told the court.

It is anticipated that lawyers representing the Hamill family will be given notice party status to participate in the challenge.

Mr Justice Treacy listed the case for hearing on November 8.

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