Convictions of three jailed for sectarian killing of boy quashed


Three men jailed for the sectarian killing of a Catholic schoolboy had their convictions quashed yesterday in the North’s Court of Appeal. It ruled that guilty verdicts returned against Aaron Wallace, Christopher Kerr and Jeff Lewis for murdering Michael McIlveen were unsafe due to flaws in how the jury was directed. The Public Prosecution Service must now decide by tomorrow whether to seek a retrial.

Michael McIlveen (15) died after being attacked by a crowd in Ballymena, Co Antrim in May 2006. He was beaten with a baseball bat and allegedly kicked as he lay defenceless in an alleyway.

Wallace (23), Kerr (25) and Lewis (22), all from Ballymena, were convicted of his murder and given minimum jail terms from 10 to 13 years. Mervyn Wilson Moon (23) admitted the killing at the start of the trial.

Lawyers for Wallace, Kerr and Lewis based their challenges on the guidance and directions the jury received during the trial judge’s summing up. Lord Justice Higgins, sitting with Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan and Lord Justice Coghlin, held that the cumulative effect of the points during the appeal rendered all three men’s convictions unsafe.