Belfast Telegraph

Brendan McConville detective led prison note probe

BY ALAN ERWIN

The detective who led the manhunt for Brendan McConville also headed the investigation into the discovery of a note containing the personal details of a former Maghaberry Prison governor in McConville's cell.

McConville's appeal has already heard that an investigation by the prisoner ombudsman concluded that it had probably been planted by a member of staff at the jail.

And former Maghaberry governor Steve Rodford has already stated that he believed some staff had tried to intimidate him by planting the note containing his car registration details in the cell.

Mr Rodford quit in December 2009 shortly after the note was found, just months after taking over.

Former prisoner ombudsman Pauline McCabe told the Court of Appeal on Tuesday that she went to a PSNI Assistant Chief Constable over her concerns that McConville may be prosecuted for the find without detectives properly considering that he was not responsible.

Part of the defence case is that after the note was discovered in McConville's remand cell in September 2009, detectives failed to investigate his claims that it had been planted.

Barry Macdonald QC, for McConville, has claimed police were only interested in trying to establish if McConville was responsible.

The court heard that a document sent by police to the Public Prosecution Service recommended bringing a charge against the prisoner.

Detective Chief Inspector Richard Harkness, who had indicated no recommendation was made, said he had not seen the paper before.

Based on the prisoner ombudsman's findings allegedly being lost for a period in the PSNI's system, Mr Macdonald contended: "The police wanted to build up a picture against him (McConville) which could be used in the murder investigation which you, as it happened, were also leading."

Once again the detective insisted: "That is untrue."

Belfast Telegraph

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