Northern Ireland

Appeals over Devlin murder convictions prepared

Thomas Devlin
Image caption Thomas Devlin died after being stabbed near his north Belfast home

The tone of a judge in his charge to the jury who convicted two men of the murder of schoolboy Thomas Devlin may feature in their appeals.

Gary Taylor and Nigel Brown were both found guilty of killing the 15-year-old, who was stabbed to death in August 2005.

They were also convicted of the attempted murder of Thomas's friend, Jonathan McKee,

The pair are now seeking to overturn their convictions.

Taylor, 24, of Mountcollyer Avenue, Belfast was ordered to serve a minimum 30 years in prison.

Brown, 27, from Whitewell Road in the city, was jailed for at least 22 years for his part in the killing.

As lawyers for both men prepare challenges to the guilty verdicts, the Court of Appeal heard details of some of the grounds to be relied on.

Issues are being raised over rulings made on the admissibility of some evidence and bad character.

Mark Farrell, appearing for Taylor, also confirmed a recording of the trial judge's charge had been requested.

Extracts

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, sitting with Lord Justices Higgins and Coghlin, asked: "You want us to listen to the tone in which the judge charged the jury?"

Mr Farrell indicated that it would first have to be analysed by the defence team.

He added: "It may be that extracts will need to be played before the court in due course, but that's all to be finalised."

Sir Declan directed that the relevant transcripts and recording should be provided.

Thomas Devlin was knifed to death as he walked home along the Somerton Road with friends after buying sweets in a local garage.

He tried to run away from his attackers but was pulled off a wall and stabbed nine times.

Jonathan McKee was also wounded as he went to help his stricken friend, with the jury told he would probably have suffered the same fate as Thomas had he not been carrying a rucksack which took the brunt of further blows.

Following a five-week trial last year the judge, Mr Justice McLaughlin said the the attack on Thomas Devlin had been "sustained and deliberate" and was "designed to cause maximum damage".

No date has yet been fixed for the hearing of the appeal, which is expected to take up to four days.

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