Friday 26 May 2017

Justice, at last, for all -- except for Una

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

MARTIN Conmey prepared a brief, three-line statement in the unlikely event that his manslaughter conviction would be quashed.

But when he emerged from the Four Courts yesterday, flanked by family members who broke down in court as Supreme Court Judge Adrian Hardiman announced that his case may have been a miscarriage of justice, Mr Conmey was speechless.

Mr Conmey and Dick Donnelly were found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter after a 13-day trial in July 1972.

Mr Donnelly's conviction was later overturned on appeal, but Mr Conmey served three years.

A third suspect, Martin Kerrigan, was never prosecuted. He was abducted and murdered 10 days after Ms Lynskey's body was found.

The tragedy unfolding at Porterstown Lane was compounded by the fact that Mr Kerrigan was killed by Ms Lynskey's two brothers and a cousin.

The evidence against Mr Conmey was entirely circumstantial. There was no direct evidence and no forensic evidence linking him to the crime.

The entire case against Mr Conmey and Mr Donnelly was the prosecution's claim that the two men, along with Mr Kerrigan, were in Mr Donnelly's car on Porterstown Lane during a tiny 15-minute window that it would have taken for Ms Lynskey to walk home.

The gist of the prosec-ution's case was that the occupants of Mr Donnelly's car met Ms Lynskey, took her into the car and that something fatal happened.

In the aftermath of the killing, three witnesses gave statements to gardai, but none of the men could place Mr Conmey or a car owned by Mr Donnelly on Porterstown Lane the night Ms Lynskey disappeared.

But within days of the taking of the first statements, the three men were reinterviewed by gardai, a process which the CCA noted produced "dramatically different, quite contradictory" results.

Mr Conmey was convicted on the strength of the revised statements. But his defence team did not have the benefit of the earlier statements, which undermined the State's case.

Yesterday the Court of Criminal Appeal ruled that Mr Conmey's legal team should have been provided with the earlier statements.

After many years, justice has been secured for Mr Conmey. But as his sister Mary, who is married to Padraic Gaughan -- a cousin of Una Lynskey -- was at pains to stress, justice has not been secured for Ms Lynskey. That perhaps, is the greatest tragedy of all.

Irish Independent

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