False confession was forced out of man with hypoglycaemia
A man who served 13 years in prison for murder has been cleared by the Court of Appeal in Belfast.
Thomas Green, a Protestant from the Ballysillan area of north Belfast, was convicted of the sectarian murder of Catholic painter John O’Neill in 1985.
He lost an appeal and was freed in 1999 under the Good Friday Agreement. He always maintained his innocence and claimed his confession was forced out of him.
Speaking on Monday, Mr Green, 38, said: “I am relieved it’s all over at long last.” Of his time in jail, he said: “It’s hard to do that for something you didn’t do.”
The Criminal Cases Review Commission investigated the case and succeeded in getting it referred back to the Appeal Court.
In a development on Monday, the Crown did not oppose the appeal.
Lord Chief Justice Sir Robert Carswell said: “It is quite clear we allow the appeal but we prefer to express our conclusions in writing in a reserved judgement later.”
Mr Green’s solicitor, Joe Rice, said he had been instructed to seek compensation “for the 13 years my client was incarcerated”.
New medical evidence from Vincent Marks, Professor of Clinical Biochemistry at the University of Surrey, led to the Crown’s decision to throw in the towel.
Arthur Harvey, QC, who led for the defence with Peter Irvine, BL, told the court the new evidence showed that when Mr Green was interviewed at Castlereagh he was suffering from hypoglycaemia as a result of the reduction in glucose levels in his blood.
“A person in that state may be totally unaware of their surroundings and what is happening and would be unreliable to the point of being worthless,” said Mr Harvey.
He said this meant that the alleged confession was factually unreliable and totally worthless.
Mr Harvey said it was no-one’s fault that the court was unaware of Mr Green’s condition at his trial.
Mr Green’s appeal had been delayed by the trial of two detectives who were cleared last October on charges of perjury arising out of their evidence at his trial in 1986.
(Retrieved from BBC News, 21 January 2002)