Belfast Telegraph

Seamus Kearney declines to take stand at RUC murder trial

By Michael Donnelly

A man accused of the IRA murder of a policeman as the RUC reservist paid a hospital visit to his wife and newborn son more than 30 years ago has declined to give evidence at his own trial.

Judge David McFarland reserved judgment and told Belfast Crown Court he would give his decision as soon as possible after reviewing the evidence against Seamus Martin Kearney.

The 54-year-old Co Londonderry man denies the murder of 25-year-old John Proctor and possessing the Armalite AR15 assault rifle used in the shooting on September 14, 1981.

Mr Proctor was gunned down in the car park at the Mid Ulster Hospital as he visited his wife Kathleen, who had just given birth.

As the prosecution case drew to a close yesterday, Kearney, from of Gorteade Road, Swatragh, declined to give evidence on his own behalf, despite a warning from the judge that the court may draw an adverse inference over his refusal.

It is alleged that a cigarette butt later found among spent bullet casings at the scene of the shooting contained a full profile of DNA of Kearney.

Kearney "was part of that terrorist group that carried out the attack on Mr Proctor and he is responsible for the murder in joint enterprise", according to the prosecution.

They also claim that since Kearney was convicted of a murder bid on UDR soldiers the following year, using the same Armalite rifle, this "was evidence of his bad character".

Yesterday, prosecutors claimed it was open to the court to draw what inferences it thought proper, given Kearney's refusal to take the witness box. They argued that given the DNA evidence, it would allow the court to infer that Kearney had no innocent explanation for the presence of his DNA on the cigarette end found at the scene.

Counsel said it was their case that Kearney was the gunman or the getaway driver for those who carried out the shooting.

Rejecting the submissions, defence QC Arthur Harvey said the court could only draw "proper inferences", and only within the background of all of the evidence.

He added that the prosecution had failed in its "ultimate objective to establish" that the cigarette end had been disgarded at the time of the actual shooting.

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