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Millionaire farmer Jimmy Seales claims lost security footage proves he was wrongly convicted of 2012 shotgun murder


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Jimmy Seales

Jimmy Seales

Jason Weir

Jason Weir

Murder victim Philip Strickland

Murder victim Philip Strickland

Jimmy Seales

A millionaire businessman serving life for a brutal shotgun murder says cops missed vital evidence that would have proved his innocence.

Jimmy Seales told Sunday Life that CCTV footage from his home will confirm he was indoors on the night Philip Strickland was blasted to death.

But he claims the recordings have gone missing - footage he is now desperately trying to retrieve ahead of launching a fresh appeal against his 18-year minimum term sentence.

"The CCTV will show that I never left the house. It was recording 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Seales during a behind bars interview at Maghaberry Prison before coronavirus struck and stopped visits.

"After I was arrested, the recording disappeared. It was lifted out of the house. I'm now trying to get it back because it proves I had nothing to do with killing Philip Strickland."

Seales was convicted of the 2012 abduction and murder after a lengthy trial heard how he gunned down his victim in revenge.

The court was told that Strickland had been part of a gang which broke Seales' arms four months before and then urinated on him as he lay helpless on the ground.

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Murder victim Philip Strickland

Murder victim Philip Strickland

Murder victim Philip Strickland

Also convicted of the murder were Seales' sons, Ian Weir and Jason Weir, and their UVF pal Stephen McCaughey.

In return for giving evidence against his father, Ian Weir was caged for four years, his brother Jason was sentenced to nine-and-a-half years, and McCaughey 10 years.

Despite the damning evidence against him, described as "formidable" by trial judge Mr Justice Weir, a determined Seales still continues to protest his innocence.

He insists he has been framed for a murder in which he played no part and is likely to die in prison as a result.

"I've spent the past eight years locked up for something I didn't do," he told this newspaper.

"I'm in my early 60s now and it will be at least another 10 years before I have any chance of parole.

"Do you think if I was guilty, I would have spent the past eight years trying to clear my name, spending all my time talking to solicitors, private investigators or journalists like yourself?"

Seales is adamant that on the night of Philip Strickland's murder, he was at his sprawling home at Raffrey near the Co Down village of Crossgar.

He said he was wakened by dogs barking and a car turning in the grounds at the front of the property.

"I looked out the window and saw the lights of the car and what appeared to be a person getting out. After the car drove off, I contacted the police," said Seales.

Jason Weir

"Sure the CCTV footage would show all that, but it has disappeared. That's why I am so focused on getting it back."

Seales' account differs considerably from the findings of the court which ruled he masterminded the murder.

Summing up, Mr Justice Weir said: "I am satisfied that you (Seales) were in this matter the prime mover, and director, and controller of these wicked events.

"You took charge of this operation, you brought the loaded shotgun, you fired the first shot, you directed the bundling of the injured Mr Strickland into his boot and the driving of the car away by Jason.

"If, as is unclear, you did not actually fire the second shot, I am satisfied you directed it and also the subsequent attempt to destroy the car."

Although a total of four people were convicted of the Strickland murder, Sunday Life is aware of the identity of a fifth individual who has never faced charges.

A former UVF member, he is now on bail facing serious charges connected to another high-profile case.

Because of these legal constraints, we are unable to identify him at this stage.

While a jury found that Seales shot Strickland dead in revenge for his earlier attack on him, there were others with strong motive to do him harm.

In the weeks before his death, Strickland was known to have stolen 10,000 ecstasy tablets from UVF drug dealer McCaughey, who was convicted of his murder alongside Seales.

McCaughey, who was on the loyalist wing of the high-security Maghaberry Prison but is now being held at Magilligan jail, denies having any motive for wanting him dead.

He claims the only reason he was present at the scene is because he received a phone call from his friend Jason Weir asking him for "back-up".

However, that does not tally with the 32-year-old's role in burning Strickland's car to destroy forensic evidence.

In a final effort to secure grounds for a new appeal, Seales has written to the security company which installed the CCTV system at his home in the hope that footage of the evening will be stored on back-up computer files.

He said: "The CCTV was definitely working that night because when the car came into my yard and turned, I watched it on the monitor before looking out the window. If I can get the recordings, I can launch a new appeal."

The millionaire farmer and landowner also denies he offered his sons £500,000 to take the rap for the Strickland killing - a claim made against him in court.

"That's nonsense," he laughed, when the allegation was raised.

Strickland was first blasted in the leg with a shotgun by Seales, a wound that would have proved fatal even if he had not been shot again.

It was also revealed in court that the reason Strickland and three others had earlier attacked Seales is because he had ordered the removal of a cannabis factory from his land which they had been secretly operating.

Belfast Telegraph