Northern Ireland

Murder evidence 'contaminated' court told

Henryk Gorski
Image caption Henryk Gorkski is appealing his conviction for the murder of Shirley Finlay

A police officer was in the home of a man convicted of murdering a young woman on the night she was battered and strangled, a court has heard.

It was also claimed the officer had earlier been at the scene where Shirley Finlay's body was discovered in 2006.

Lawyers for Henryk Gorski, 53, claimed forensic evidence against their client could have been contaminated.

Gorkski, a Polish meat factory worker, is appealing his conviction for the murder of Shirley Finlay in Ballymena.

A two-day appeal hearing which was due to take place next month has now been put back due to issues around later disclosure and the availability of trial transcripts.

Ms Finlay's partially-clothed body was found dumped at a car park in September 2006.

'Callous'

Gorski was ordered to serve at least 20 years in jail after a jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict in 2009.

The trial judge described the killing as "a brutal murder" and said the way the victim's body was disposed of had been "callous in the extreme".

During his trial the court heard a series of hard facts linked her death to Gorski's flat.

His fingerprints were said to be on bin bags used to tie her body inside a duvet cover connected to his home.

A grey jacket found beside the victim bore traces of DNA from Gorski's former lover and a strand of hair matching that of Ms Finlay's was also later recovered from a carpet in Gorski's Hill Street flat.

Despite the forensic and circumstantial evidence, Gorski continued to maintain his innocence.

When told he faced life imprisonment he yelled in Polish: "I don't agree with it."

Further claim

His legal team are seeking to cite evidence to say that a police officer was in his flat on the night of the murder.

Gorski's barrister made a further claim as the case was mentioned in the Court of Appeal on Friday.

He said: "It now transpires that not only was he (the officer) in the home, but he actually visited the site where the body was deposited."

Mr Devine stressed the significance of this alleged development in a case where forensic evidence played a key role.

"One of those pieces of forensic evidence is a single strand of the deceased's hair," he added.

Senior judges due to hear the appeal agreed to take it out of the list for next month.

It is now provisionally to be heard during two days in May.