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John Finucane tells inquest of discovering dissident client hanging in PSNI station in 2009


Sinn Fein’s John Finucane outside court

Sinn Fein’s John Finucane outside court

Freddie Parkinson

John Brady’s sister Lorna and mum Margaret

John Brady’s sister Lorna and mum Margaret

Freddie Parkinson

Sinn Fein’s John Finucane outside court

North Belfast MP and solicitor John Finucane has told an inquest how he found a dissident republican he was representing hanging in a police custody suite in Londonderry.

John Brady died on October 3, 2009 in Strand Road PSNI station where he was being held after he was arrested in Strabane the previous day.

He had been detained in relation to an altercation with his brother-in-law John Kennedy, who alleged Mr Brady had threatened to kill him.

A legal representative for the Brady family stated in court during cross-examination of a Special Branch officer that it was the belief of the family that Mr Brady's arrest had been "set up".

The barrister also suggested to this officer that Mr Kennedy was "an agent of the state" and that Mr Brady's arrest and Mr Kennedy's role in it had been "contrived".

A legal representative for the PSNI asked the officer about this, to which the officer said: "I can neither confirm nor deny that."

In his evidence, Mr Finucane detailed how, before the situation in the custody suite had taken such a tragic turn, he had consulted with senior partners in his practice about the possibility of mounting a legal challenge to Mr Brady's arrest.

Mr Finucane believed that police had decided to press charges against his client before he was even interviewed.

The court sitting in Omagh heard how Mr Finucane made a number of representations to the police, including written ones stating that he believed his client's arrest was not lawful.

The court heard that Mr Finucane requested to speak to a senior officer, which was arranged, and he once again stated that it was his view that the decision to charge his client with actual body harm and making threats to kill Mr Kennedy had already been taken.

Mr Finucane consulted with Mr Brady and then accompanied him to the interview room, where he was questioned by two police officers.

It was during this police interview that Mr Brady made a counter allegation against Mr Kennedy and told an officer the names of five potential witnesses to the altercation.

Mr Finucane told the court he believed the interview with the police "went well" and that Mr Brady had been "relaxed".

Mr Finucane again reiterated his belief that Mr Brady, who was a weekend parole prisoner at the time, should not be charged with any offence, but rather he could be released on bail pending further enquiries.

It was after this that Mr Finucane left the station to get some food.

However, he returned a short time later after a police inspector called him to tell him Mr Brady was going to be charged.

Mr Finucane returned to Strand Road, and consulted for a short time with Mr Brady again before stepping out of the room to check that his written representation had been entered into the custody record.

The court heard how Mr Finucane then made his way back down the corridor to the consultation room where he found Mr Brady hanging, and how the solicitor "took a second to take in" the scene in front of him before he shouted: "Help, help, I need help."

Mr Finucane said he did not enter the room where Mr Brady was hanging because he had no knowledge of first aid. However, police officers administered CPR before the arrival of paramedics a few minutes later.

The inquest also heard evidence from two Special Branch officers about requests to carry out an intelligence interview with Mr Brady because he was a "person of interest" due to his republican terrorist background at the time of his arrest.

Evidence from these officers was that no interview had been carried out with Mr Brady because the guidelines stated that the detainee must be charged before this was possible.

The Brady family's legal representative suggested to the Special Branch officers that it was the family's belief that the arrest and the decision to charge had been "contrived" so that Special Branch could have "leverage" when interviewing him.

Coroner Joe McCrisken strongly cautioned the barrister about this suggestion, and also his questioning of one of the Special Branch officers about how and when they became aware that Mr Brady had been arrested and was being held in Strand Road, warning him to "stick to facts".

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