Belfast Telegraph

Charges dropped against Northern Ireland man accused of giving woman abortion drugs

By Paul Higgins

Further charges against a Co Tyrone man, who at one time was accused of giving a woman a drug to procure an abortion, were dropped on Wednesday.

Three weeks ago at Dungannon Magistrates' Court, count four, alleging 24-year-old Philip Griffiths administered a drug to procure an abortion on a date between 1 September and 31 October last year was withdrawn "without prejudice".

At the same court on Wednesday a prosecuting lawyer told District Judge John Meehan there had been a decision by the Public Prosecution Service for "no prosecution" so he was applying for the remaining charges to also be withdrawn.

Griffiths, from Spout Walk in Fivemiletown, had been accused of assaulting the woman, possessing a kitchen knife with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, threatening to kill the woman and threatening to destroy her home on a date unknown between January and December last year, harassing her and causing criminal damage to her bathroom door.

After the charges against Griffiths were withdrawn, his solicitor Conal McGarrity released the following statement: "From the commencement of the prosecution Mr. Griffiths has steadfastly maintained his innocence and thankfully his position has been fully vindicated today.

"From the outset, we have had major concerns about the quality of the evidence and the manner in which the matter was proceeded with.  The offence of procuring an abortion was dismissed upon our application on the 18th April 2016 on the basis that the charge did not meet the factual matrix of the case as it stood at that stage. 

"This charge was something of a red herring and should not have been proceeded with by the Police and Public Prosecution Service at any stage.  Their decision to do so however has meant that that this matter was unjustifiably subsumed into the wider issue of abortion which is a matter of substantial public debate within Northern Ireland at present and as a consequence threatened to prejudice the ongoing proceedings.  The case has been extremely traumatic for Mr. Griffiths and the reputational damage suffered as a result has been irreparable.   

"The remaining charges were dismissed in their entirety following today’s Court hearing and Mr. Griffiths wishes this placed on public record together with his view that the grounding allegations were made without foundation and of a malicious nature.  We are currently considering civil remedies in respect of our client’s position."

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