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Former RUC sergeant tells of nightmare after court clears him of murdering ex-wife who was found dead in bath

A former RUC officer has been cleared of murdering his ex-wife after the prosecution offered no evidence at his retrial on Tuesday.

Joseph Alfred Haveron was cleared of killing Pauline Haveron — the very day he was supposed to have gone on trial for a second time for the April 2010 killing.

The 58-year-old former police sergeant, from Farm Lodge Grove in Greenisland, Co Antrim, was to have gone on trial at Armagh Crown Court accused of murdering his 53-year-old wife.

The part-time nurse — a mother-of-four — was found naked and floating face-down in her bath in her Huntingdale Green home in Ballyclare by her young lover.

But at Belfast Crown Court yesterday, after hearing that the prosecution was offering no evidence, Mr Justice Treacy directed a jury of six men and six women to formally find Haveron not guilty of his wife's murder.

Last night the PSNI said it accepted the court’s decision and “will now take time to consider the potential for investigative opportunities”.

Following the outcome, Mr Haveron was said to be “too emotional” to face journalists, and instead a statement was read on his behalf by his solicitor John Burke from McElhatton and Co.

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The former police officer described the past two years as being “a nightmare” and while feeling relieved and vindicated at his acquittal, “it is tempered by the great sadness he feels for his children, who have lost a wonderful and caring mother”.

His former wife's family had also, said the statement, “lost a |devoted daughter and sister”.

Haveron originally went on trial last month accused of his wife's murder, with the prosecution claiming he was motivated by |resentment and jealousy.

While there was no direct evidence linking him to the murder, the prosecution had claimed that the policeman's car was captured on CCTV footage seized from various locations along the nine miles between their respective homes.

However, when a forensic imaging expert claimed to be able to identify Haveron’s car, he was taken to task by Mr Justice |Treacy, and after a weekend adjournment, prosecution QC Liam McCollum returned to say that following further consultations with their expert, a decision had been taken not to rely on his evidence.

Yesterday, defence QC Gavin Duffy argued that in such circumstances a jury should be sworn and directed to acquit his client of the murder charge.

In the circumstances, Mr Justice Treacy directed a newly sworn jury to acquit the former policeman.

Upon his release, Mr Haveron’s solicitor said that the “last few years have been difficult and painful for all members” of the family, “in particular her children and family”.

Shaky CCTV evidence sank prosecution

By John Mulgrew

Joseph Haveron had been described in court by his eldest son as a “Jekyll and Hyde” character who had a quick and often violent temper.

The retired RUC officer — who spent 30 years in the force — walked free from court after being cleared of the murder of his former wife Pauline almost three years ago.

Pauline Haveron (53) was found strangled in her bath at her Huntingdale Green home in Ballyclare by her young lover.

Her husband (58) had been accused of the killing, which took place in April 2010.

Mr Haveron’s initial trial was dramatically halted last month after the prosecution decided not to rely on expert evidence.

Prosecuting QC Liam McCollum had told Belfast Crown Court trial judge Mr Justice Treacy it had decided not to rely on the partly-heard evidence of Glen Stewart, who took the stand in December.

The move led to the trial being stopped and the jury being discharged.

Forensic imagery analyst Mr Stewart had told the court that, in his opinion, a car matching that owned by Mr Haveron was captured on CCTV at a Doagh filling station, about two miles from where his ex-wife was found murdered in the early hours of April 18.

With the evidence halted, Mr Justice Treacy took him to task about the quality of the photographs, describing them nothing more than “a blob”.

During the trial Mr McCollum had claimed that Mr Haveron resented the amount he had to pay his wife after a protracted and acrimonious divorce.

He claimed that Mr Haveron was also jealous and enraged at her affair with a man half her age.

Giving evidence during his initial trial, a jury also heard Mr Haveron’s son Jonathan recount how he witnessed numerous bouts of domestic abuse over the years.

And jury members heard allegations that during one argument, when he was a child, his father had pointed his gun at his wife and that he “pistol-whipped” her.

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