Liam Adams jury not properly briefed, court told

Lawyer alleges judge’s final direction to jury wasn’t clear during conviction appeal

A lawyer for Liam Adams said that a judge was not sufficiently clear in giving her final direction to the jury which found Adams guilty of raping his daughter Aine.

Eilis McDermott, QC, in appealing the conviction of 60-year-old Liam Adams, also said the fact that Adams is the brother of the Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams made the case a "national issue".

Ms McDermott is today outlining her case on behalf of Liam Adams, who is originally from Bernagh Drive, west Belfast. Adams himself appeared in the dock wearing a red check shirt.

In November 2013 at Belfast Crown Court Judge Corinne Philpott sentenced Liam Adams to 16-years in prison for sexually abusing his daughter Aine between the ages of four and nine. The offences occurred between 1977 and 1983, when Adams was aged between 22 and 26.

In October 2013, a jury of nine men and three women, by an 11 to 1 majority, found Adams guilty of all 10 charges against him - including three counts of rape, three of gross indecency and four of indecent assault.

‘Extensive publicity’

In presenting her appeal, Ms McDermott referred to how there was “extensive publicity” surrounding two cases against Liam Adams in 2013 - the first in April which collapsed over an issue of disclosure and the second beginning in September which resulted in Adams’s conviction.

Ms McDermott told the Belfast Court of Appeal that there was not a sufficient “fade factor” between the aborted case and the second trial and that it was not possible for jurors in the second trial not to be aware of the original case.

Ms McDermott also referred to how there was extensive reporting of how Gerry Adams gave evidence in the collapsed trial even though he was not called to give evidence in the second case.

Ms McDermott referred to how, in 2009, UTV’s Insight did a programme detailing Aine Adams’s allegations against her father and how it became a “national issue” due to the Gerry Adams link.

She also referred to Gerry Adams's disclosure on RTÉ that some members of his family were sexually abused by his father, also called Gerry.

Ms McDermott said that, as a result, “it is not a case where the fade factor would be effective”.

The lawyer said that Judge Philpott did not deal with the issue of publicity other than by the “standard form” of telling the jury not to read about the case or discuss it with anyone other than fellow jurors.

Ms McDermott said there was also a concern about the “clarity” of the final direction given to the jury by Judge Philpott. She said that certain aspects of her direction were “opaque”, “difficult for the jury to follow” and came “nowhere near the careful direction” that the jury required.

The lawyer said that there was “concern about the clarity of direction” of where the burden of proof rested in the case.

Ms McDermott also said that two weeks ago she received documentation from the Public Prosecution Service that was not disclosed in the two trials.

This showed that Gerry Adams was in contact about the abuse with his solicitor in February 2007 rather than in June 2006 as initially disclosed. Ms McDermott said had she known this earlier the “material certainly would have been used in cross-examination”.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times