Not until the judge's last words could he relax

 

Forty-eight years after it began, Iain Hay Gordon's ordeal ended. But before he walked out of the courtroom an innocent man, he had to hear the evidence that had convicted him one last time.

Before quashing Mr Gordon's conviction the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Robert Carswell, spent over an hour delivering an abridged version of the findings of the Court of Appeal. Much of this was taken up with what the jury that convicted Mr Gordon in 1953 had heard.

Although he must have known in his head that his conviction was to be quashed, Mr Gordon clearly had some small doubts.

He sat in the courtroom wearing a navy suit, an inscrutable expression on his face, as details of the confession and circumstantial evidence were read out.

Even when Sir Robert repeated the fact that his confession was now seen as unsafe and had been taken from him under duress, and that other, potentially crucial, evidence had not been given in his defence, he did not relax.

Not until the closing words of the judgment did Iain Hay Gordon know for certain he had been vindicated and let a smile appear on his face.

"We therefore conclude that the jury's verdict cannot stand. There can be no question of ordering a retrial after this length of time, and we therefore allow the appeal and quash the finding of guilt," the judge said.

As the court rose, members of the press and well-wishers flocked around Mr Gordon.

"I feel I have been vindicated," the 68-year-old said. "I always believed I would clear my name. I didn't know how but I always knew I would get this result one day.

"I have done what I set out to do and I feel over the moon. A big burden has been lifted from me."

Outside he threw his frail arms in the air and gave repeated thumbs-up gestures to waiting photographers.

Almost breaking into tears, he said he was "a bit irate" with the judges in Belfast for taking two months to deliver their judgment, and that it was now almost impossible to know what happened on the night Patricia Curran was murdered.

"I wasn't there but I don't know what happened and I have always refused to speculate," he said.

Mr Gordon's solicitor, Ms Margot Harvey, said he was entitled to compensation after such a momentous injustice, and expected he would apply for it.

She said it was "scary" to think there might be other cases similar to his. Mr Gordon should not be forgotten because it could happen to anybody.