McKevitt loses appeal against Real IRA conviction

Republican was jailed for 20 years in 2003 for directing terrorism

Former Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt photographed in 2008. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Former Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt photographed in 2008. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Fri, Apr 19, 2013, 11:56

The Court of Criminal Appeal has dismissed a bid by the Real IRA's Michael McKevitt to have his conviction for directing terrorism declared a miscarriage of justice.

In August 2003 McKevitt (63) became the first person in the history of the State to be jailed for directing terrorist activities.

Today in its ruling the three judge CCA comprised of Mr Justice John MacMenamin, presiding, sitting with Mr Justice and Mr Justice dismissed McKevitt's action.

The State, in a preliminary application, had asked the court to strike out McKevitt's application as an abuse of process.

Giving the court’s decision, Mr Justice McMenamin said the court was acceding to the State's application to strike out the matter because McKevitt's application, under Section 2 of the Criminal Procedure Act was "unstateable and unarguable."

McKevitt was not present in court for today's ruling.

His lawyers had argued his conviction for directing terrorist activities should be set aside because a search warrant used to search his home was issued under Section 29 of the Offences Against the State Act, which the Supreme Court subsequently ruled as unconstitutional.

Any question of the warrant issue being unconstitutional was not raised by McKevitt or his lawyers at the trial or at his appeal. They also argued that evidence used against McKevitt at trial was taken while he was not legally represented.

The State asked the CCA to dismiss the application as it was not based on any new or newly discovered fact. The State said McKevitt had exhausted all rights of appeal in respect of his conviction and that the case had reached finality.

McKevitt’s lawyers argued that the court should not dismiss an application and that it should be allowed to proceed to the full hearing.

Following a lengthy trial, McKevitt was convicted by the Special Criminal Court in August 2003 of IRA membership between August 29th, 1999 and March 28th, 2001, and of directing the activities of the IRA between August 29th, 1999 and October 23rd, 2000.

McKevitt, who had denied the charges, was jailed for 20 years by the non-jury court. He lost appeals against these convictions at the Court of Criminal Appeal in 2005 and at the Supreme Court in 2008.

He also lost an appeal two years ago against a Belfast civil court’s ruling which found him liable for the Omagh bombing.