Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bulletin: Gerry Conlon: (UK): One of the "Guildford Four," The Mirror reports that he has died after 15 years in prison for a bombing he didn't commit. While Gerry Conlon was sentenced to life on the basis of confessions obtained under torture, his father, Giuseppe, was convicted on the basis of forensic evidence "later exposed as fraudulent."

STORY: "Guildford Four's Gerry Conlon dies after 15 years in prison for bombing he didn't commit," by reporter Karen Rockett, published by the Mirror, on June 21, 2014.

SUB-HEADING: "His case was highlighted in the 1993 Oscar-nominated film In The Name Of The Father, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, five years after his conviction was quashed in 1989."

GIST; Gerry Conlon, one of the Guildford Four, who spent 15 years in his prison for an IRA bombing he didn’t commit, died a broken man today. He was jailed for life in 1975 for the Guildford pub bombing along with Paul Hill, Carole Richardson and Paddy Armstrong, which killed five people and injured 65. Mr Conlan, who was 60, and had been ill for some time, died this morning at his home off the Falls Road in west Belfast. It is believed he had a heart attack. Mr Conlon’s case was highlighted in the 1993 Oscar-nominated film In The Name Of The Father, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, five years after his conviction was quashed in 1989 following a huge campaign to free him. Conlon had never been to Guildford. But along with the other three others he was sentenced to life in prison on the basis of confessions obtained under torture by Surrey police. Gerry's father, Giuseppe, was jailed later that year, also arrested and charged in connection with the bombings when he travelled to England to organize legal representation for his son. Giuseppe Conlon, along with Conlon’s aunt, Annie Maguire, her husband Paddy and their family – who became known as the Maguire Seven – were convicted on the basis of dubious forensic evidence which the prosecution claimed proved they had handled explosives used in the bombings. Giuseppe Conlon was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment and died in prison less than five years into his sentence. The forensic evidence used to secure his conviction was later exposed as fraudulent."

The entire story can be found at:

See transcript of the 26 February, 1980 BBC broadcast on the discredited forensic evidence used to convict Giuseppe Conlon in connection with the bombing. (The Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) test used to establish the presence of nitro-glycerine on his hands); "In March 1976 Giuseppe Conlon was sentenced to 12 years in prison for possession of explosives. Reporter Gavin Esler outlines the police’s case against Giuseppe: his son Gerry was a Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) bomber, who had blown up pubs in Guildford and Woolwich; Gerry Conlon had named his aunt Anne Maguire as a source of the explosives used (Giuseppe was arrested in Anne Maguire’s home along with his co-accused, collectively known as the Maguire Seven); traces of nitro-glycerine had been found on his hands. Elser goes on to state that the police did not find any explosives in the Maguire house or in the surrounding area. He then describes the Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) test used to establish the presence of nitro-glycerine on the hands of the accused. This test was developed by Dr. John Yallop, a forensic scientist and witness for the defence (Dr. Yallop did not wish to be interviewed for the programme). Dr. Yallop’s test is repeated in a lab in Belfast. Yallop had discovered that at least one other substance could give the same result in the TLC test (a distinctive pink spot) as nitro-glycerine would give. Therefore the test could not prove the presence of nitro-glycerine. Dr. James Grimshaw (of the Department of Chemistry at Queen’s University in Belfast) states that a single TLC test is not enough to establish the presence of nitro-glycerine. It is impossible to check the original test results as these were not photographed. Alastair Logan, the Guildford solicitor who took up Giuseppe Conlon’s case on appeal, lists the weakness in the evidence against the Maguire Seven; for example, the scientist who carried out the forensic tests was an inexperienced 18 year-old."

See October 1999 Guardian story for  impact of revelations of the wrongful convictions perpetrated on Gerry Conlon, his father and The Maguire Seven,  on public opinion.


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