No merit to appeal of conviction for membership of an unlawful organisation

By: Ciaran Joyce BL

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Court of Appeal dismisses appeal of conviction for membership of an unlawful organisation, imposed in the Special Criminal Court, on the grounds that complaints about the handling of the belief evidence, the admittance of evidence of the appellant’s DNA on an item of interest located close to where the explosives were, and inferences from the failure of the appellant to answer questions while in detention were without merit.

Criminal law – appeal of membership of an unlawful organisation conviction imposed in the Special Criminal Court – belief/opinion evidence was admitted to evidence pursuant to the provisions of s. 3(2) of the Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act 1972 – inferences from the failure of the appellant to answer questions pursuant to s. 2 of the Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act 1998 – s. 30 of the Offences against the State Act 1939 – s. 7(1)(c) and (d) of the Criminal Law Act 1976 – s. 6(2) and s. 9 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984 – s. 2(4) of the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence) Act 1990 – s. 50 of the Criminal Justice Act 2007 – appellant’s DNA and fingerprints – whether the Court erred in holding that it was entitled to infer that the failure of the appellant to answer questions in detention was consistent only with membership of the IRA – trial court was entitled to conclude that the failure to answer questions supported the prosecution case – appeal dismissed.

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