Pardon for man wrongly executed for murder 75 years ago

Harry Gleeson is the first person to receive a posthumous pardon from the State

Almost three quarters of a century after being sent to the gallows for a murder he had nothing to do with, Tipperary man Harry Gleeson (above) is to become the first recipient of a posthumous pardon from the State

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, is preparing to issue a full pardon to a man sent to the gallows almost 75 years ago for a murder he did not commit.

Harry Gleeson from Co Tipperary is to become the first recipient of a posthumous pardon from the State once the move is approved by Cabinet in the weeks ahead.

A spokeswoman could not confirm if Mr Gleeson’s body would be exhumed from a grave in Mountjoy Prison where the execution took place, though such a move does seem likely once the pardon has been granted.

In April 1941 Mr Gleeson was convicted of the murder of Mary McCarthy, known as Moll Carthy. He had found her body lying in a field on the New Inn farm he managed on November 22nd, 1940.


Innocence Project

Huge doubts have long hung over his conviction and subsequent execution but his innocence is to be finally recognised thanks in no small part to the Griffith College-based Irish Innocence Project and the Justice for Harry Gleeson group.

Part of a global organisation of the same name, the Innocence Project was formed here in 2009 with the mandate of unearthing new facts in cases where there is a belief a miscarriage of justice has taken place under the remit of the Criminal Procedure Act 1993 and the posthumous pardon procedure.

"Nothing can adequately comfort those who have fought to exonerate Harry Gleeson but this posthumous pardon and the clearing of the good name of Mr Gleeson is a proud moment for everyone involved," David Langwallner, dean of law at Griffith College and project director, said once it became apparent a pardon was imminent.

The Department of Justice had received a submission on the case last year, claiming several threads of new evidence. Much of this evidence had been compiled by the Justice for Harry Gleeson Group which subsequently contacted the Innocence Project.

The case review found that the prosecution had successfully withheld crucial information highlighting discrepancies in their case (in particular relating to the registration of the firearm); that gardaí encouraged witnesses to submit falsified statements and that gardaí beat a witness during questioning. Forensic evidence from a US pathologist also proved Mr Gleeson had an alibi.

“This case was a tragic miscarriage of justice and the hanging of Mr Gleeson for a murder he never committed is a dark stain on the memory of the State,” said Prof Diarmuid Hegarty, president of Griffith College. “However his posthumous pardon shows that justice is not blind to injustice.”

The Irish Innocence Project currently has 21 students from Griffith College, Trinity College and Dublin City University working on some 25 further cases under the supervision of eight lawyers working on a pro-bono basis.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor