Belfast Telegraph

Maze escaper Artt given date for murder appeal

Kevin Barry Artt took part in the Maze prison escape in 1983
Kevin Barry Artt took part in the Maze prison escape in 1983

By Alan Erwin

A convicted murderer who fled to the United States after taking part in a mass IRA prison escape 36 years ago has been given a date for his renewed legal attempt to clear his name.

Court of Appeal judges in Belfast yesterday listed the case of Kevin Barry Artt for a two-day hearing in October.

Artt (59) is seeking to overturn a verdict that he was guilty of killing Albert Miles, a deputy governor at the Maze Prison, in 1978. He has remained in California since a failed attempt to extradite him.

Defence lawyers are set to argue that police conduct during his interrogation and flaws in the trial process rendered his conviction unsafe.

In 1983 Artt was sentenced to life imprisonment for the IRA murder of Deputy Governor Miles.

The victim had been gunned down in front of his wife at their north Belfast home.

A month after lodging an appeal, Artt joined 37 other inmates in the September 1983 escape - the biggest jailbreak in UK history. He fled to America, settling on the west coast and becoming a successful car salesman.

In 1992 he was arrested on a passport violation, leading to the British authorities seeking his extradition. But following a protracted process the US courts ruled against sending him back.

His lawyers have prepared fresh grounds on which they contend the conviction should be quashed. They claim the only evidence against him came from admissions under police duress.

The case is also expected to focus on forensic tests of the original handwritten police interview notes, a process carried out for the extradition proceedings.

In court yesterday, however, it was revealed that those notes have not been located since being examined as part of the extradition proceedings.

Gerald Simpson QC, for the prosecution, said police checks failed to recover the handwritten document, saying: "We are no further on, but I suspect we are not going to find them."

Setting the date, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said: "Given the time spent, we really ought to get this case on."

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