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Black Widow loses legal fight on secret garda file

'BLACK Widow' Catherine Nevin's attempt to gain access to a garda file that she claims could help have her murder conviction declared a miscarriage of justice has been dealt an early blow.

The three judges sitting at the Court of Criminal Appeal ruled a document held by gardai on one of the men she solicited to kill her husband was privileged.

Her counsel had maintained the document may be evidence that William McClean had "some sort of secret life" as a State informer.

They argued if one prosecution witness was tainted there was the possibility others could be, too, as they were connected.

However, the court ruled that the document contained no information that would advance her attempts to have a miscarriage of justice declared.


Authorities in Britain gave the file to gardai as part of an inquiry into the Dublin-Monaghan bombings in 1974.

Nevin (55) was found guilty in April 2000 of the murder of her husband Tom at their pub, Jack White's Inn, Brittas Bay, in 1996. She was also convicted of soliciting three different men in 1989 and 1990 -- Mr McClean, Gerry Heapes and John Jones -- to kill her husband.

Nevin is serving a life sentence on the murder charge and a concurrent seven years on the soliciting charges.

Her appeal against conviction was dismissed in 2003.

She did not speak during yesterday's proceedings, and was accompanied at all times by two gardai.

Lawyers for Nevin want access to other documents which they claim are highly relevant, including garda security files on three men who gave evidence against the 58-year-old at her trial almost ten years ago, and material related to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in 1974.

Nevin alleges the documents will assist her in undermining the credibility of the three men.


Nevin is also seeking an order requiring the DPP to answer whether Mr McClean, Mr Heapes and Mr Jones were ever State informers and whether Mr McClean, with whom Nevin denied having an affair, had paramilitary connections.

Yesterday the court heard that Mr McClean "emphatically" denied links with any paramilitary organisations.

Lawyers for the State argued that even if a document was capable of undermining Mr McClean's credibility, it was "not relevant" to the safety of Nevin's conviction.

However Hugh Hartnett, for Nevin, argued that the entire case against his client "depended almost entirely on three men" and without them there would no murder conviction. Mr Hartnett said if one was tainted, it followed that all three were tainted.

He added that if one was shown to be lacking in credibility than the close connectivity of the other could have caused "the case to tumble".

The hearing continues today.