Court quashes murder conviction of Belfast man tried in Dublin

The Court of Criminal Appeal in Dublin today quashed the conviction of the only person ever convicted by a Dublin court for a murder in the North.

The court ordered a retrial for Belfast man Gerard Mackin and remanded him in custody after ruling that crucial prosecution evidence had not been properly proved in the court of trial.

Gerard Mackin became the first person to be convicted by a Dublin court for a murder carried out in Northern Ireland when he was convicted by the Special Criminal Court in November 2008.

Mackin was jailed for life after he was found guilty of the murder of Belfast taxi driver Eddie Burns in the city in 2007. It was the first time that anyone was convicted in a Dublin court for a murder committed in the north under a cross-border anti-terrorist law introduced in 1976.

But today Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, sitting with Mr Justice Declan Budd and Mr Justice Daniel O'Keeffe, ruled that evidence taken in a Belfast court had not been properly proved at the Special Criminal Court.

The three judges of the Special Criminal Court travelled to Belfast in October 2008 to hear evidence taken by a Belfast judge, including the evidence of the chief prosecution witness, Mr Damien O'Neill, who was himself shot and injured during the incident but survived.

Gerard Mackin was found guilty of the murder of Mr Edward Burns,a 36-year-old father of five, of Prospect Park, Belfast, at Bog Meadow, Falls Road, Belfast on March 12, 2007.

He was also convicted of the attempted murder of Mr Damien O'Neill, the possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and causing serious harm to Mr O'Neill on the same date.

He was jailed for 15 years for the attempted murder of Mr O'Neill, 10 years for the possession of a revolver with intent to endanger life and 12 years for intentionally causing serious harm to Mr O'Neill. The court ordered all the sentences to run concurrently.

Mackin (aged 28), a native of the Whiterock area of west Belfast, with an address at Raheen Close, Tallaght, Dublin opted for trial in the Republic under the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act of 1976 which allows suspects to be tried in the Republic for alleged offences in Britain or Northern Ireland.


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