Belfast Telegraph

Colombia Three's 1982 arms conviction unsafe

By Alan Erwin

A weapons conviction against one of the so-called Colombia Three is to be quashed, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Senior judges declared the guilty verdict against Martin McCauley unsafe after hearing claims that senior police officers lied to prosecutors and tried to manipulate the case.

Secret recordings of events in the Co Armagh farm shed where he was shot and a teenage friend killed in 1982 were later found to have been destroyed.

Lawyers for McCauley (52) argued that the tapes could have backed his claim that police issued no warnings before opening fire more than 30 years ago.

They based their case on the findings of an investigation into allegations that the RUC operated a shoot-to-kill policy.

Karen Quinlivan QC said: "The entire conspiracy was designed to ensure police were immune from prosecution."

The Court of Appeal was examining his conviction for possession of three rifles. He was charged after being shot and wounded by an RUC team at a farm shed near Lurgan where the antique-style guns were discovered in 1982.

In 2001, he was arrested along with Niall Connolly and James Monaghan in Colombia and accused of training rebel Farc guerrilla forces.

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