Saturday 18 January 2020

Gangland hitman fails in conviction appeal bid

Killer Gary Campion. Photo: Press 22
Killer Gary Campion. Photo: Press 22
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Notorious gangland killer Gary Campion has failed in a bid to mount a Supreme Court challenge over the admissibility of a witness interview which led to his conviction.

Campion (32) was jailed for life after a jury was told of interviews with witness Erol Ibrahim, in which he described seeing the killer shoot dead former associate Frank Ryan in Limerick in 2006.

Thanks to a law enacted that year, the statements were admitted in evidence, even though Ibrahim later claimed on the stand he had lied and would have said anything to get out of Garda custody.

Under Section 16 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, statements can be admitted where the witness later denies the contents, as long as the court was satisfied that the original statement was made voluntarily and was reliable.

It was introduced in a bid to address instances where witnesses withdrew statements in court due to intimidation or fear of reprisal.

Lawyers for Campion, who is also serving a life sentence for the murder of Limerick bouncer Brian Fitzgerald, had been seeking to challenge findings by the Court of Appeal, which ruled there was no error made when the trial judge allowed the interviews to go before the jury.

They argued that the Court of Appeal had been wrong in holding that the statements were "voluntary" and "reliable".

It was also claimed the trial judge's charge to the jury in relation to Section 16 was inadequate.

However, the Supreme Court refused Campion leave to appeal.

In a determination by Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell, Mr Justice William McKechnie and Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne, it found the Court of Appeal had delivered a careful and comprehensive judgment.

The judges found that arguments made on behalf of Campion did not reach the Constitutional threshold of raising a point of law of general public importance, or a point that had to be addressed in the interests of justice.

Ibrahim was a friend of Ryan and was in a car with him and Campion when the murder occurred. Campion, who had just been released from prison two days earlier, shot Ryan twice in the head.

Ibrahim voluntarily attended at a Garda station and denied knowing who shot the deceased.

But he was later arrested for withholding information. While detained, a brother of the victim came to visit Ibrahim and told him it was the family's wish he should tell the truth and, if he did, he would not be labelled a 'rat'.

Ibrahim then stated that Campion was the killer. He later expanded on this during videotaped interviews.

Irish Independent

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