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Holland family seeks access to police files

The family of a murdered greengrocer are to seek access to witness statements and police interviews as part of their legal challenge over the Public Prosecution Service's handling of the case.

The High Court heard yesterday that relatives of Harry Holland are seeking an order compelling the authorities to supply them with reasons for the decision to reduce charges against two teenagers originally accused of his murder.

Mr Holland (65) was stabbed to death with a screwdriver near his home on Norfolk Drive, west Belfast, in September 2007.

Stephen McKee (19), of Ballymurphy Road in the city, has received a life sentence for the murder.

But Patrick Crossan (19), of Willowbank Gardens, and a girl aged 17 at the time of the attack, were given lesser sentences after admitting other charges including affray.

Mr Holland's widow Pauline launched judicial review proceedings against the PPS amid claims that it has failed to honour commitments to inform her on how it pursued the case against the suspects.

But the High Court was told yesterday that a letter setting out reasons had been delayed and only just received by the Holland family's legal representatives.

Their barrister Ciaran White said more time would be needed to assess its contents and understand the reasons for not pursuing “two of the assailants” for manslaughter and substituting murder charges for affray.

“The applicant would require access to the trial papers in order to appreciate the completeness of these reasons,” he said.

“She hasn't been given access to witness statements and police interviews — the trial papers as we call them.

“The respondent's position is these are police documents and only the police can release them.”

He added: “The bottom line is she has not been given access to these and is not in a position to completely appreciate the reasons advanced in the letter just furnished this morning.”

The judge, Mr Justice Treacy, suggested Mrs Holland should approached the authorities to seek access to the papers, based on the letter received.

“I think you should formulate the request and reasons for making the request and why you need it,” he told Mr White.

“Presumably, if they maintain the decision not to furnish you with the papers, the proposed respondent will set out in detail why the family are being denied access to the documents that they seek.”

The case was adjourned for three weeks to allow further efforts at securing discovery of the documents.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph