Northern Ireland

Kerr murder: challenge launched by wife of detainee

Constable Ronan Kerr
Image caption Constable Ronan Kerr was killed when a booby-trap car bomb exploded

The wife of one of the men being held in connection with the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr has launched a legal challenge over being denied access to the family home.

Sean McKiernan, 40, of Shergrim Glen, is one of three men being questioned about the car bomb attack

He was detained last Thursday but has not been charged with any offences.

His wife Sarah has now been granted leave to seek a judicial review of police actions.

Mrs McKiernan is seeking a High Court declaration that the PSNI acted unlawfully during searches of her home which began a day after Constable Kerr was killed on Saturday 2 April.

She alleges her right to respect for privacy and family life under the European Convention on Human Rights was violated.

Even though police have now allowed Mrs McKiernan back into the property at Shergrim Glen, she is pressing on with her case on points of legal and public interest.

After clearing the first hurdle, a full hearing of the issues has now been listed for later in the year.

Evidence

His wife's lawyers have argued that the PSNI acted outside the authority of a warrant granted to search the home for any forensic trace evidence.

They alleged officers carried out the necessary tests but continued to occupy the premises and refused to allow Mrs McKiernan and her children to return for a number of days.

In an affidavit to support her case, the mother of three claimed the search began at around 0600 BST on Sunday 3 April.

Mrs McKiernan stated that later the same day, her family was removed from the home after being given a plastic bag and allowed to take a few items of clothing.

According to the legal papers she was told the search would be finished by last Wednesday, with swab tests to establish the existence of any forensic trace evidence.

Mrs McKiernan claimed, however, that she was then informed no return to the home would be allowed until the results were known.

Her children were unable to attend school last week because they did not have uniforms and school bags.

The court heard on Monday that the family were allowed back into the house over the weekend.

A full hearing of the issues has been scheduled for September.

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