Lawyers pledged to go to the European Court of Human Rights after judges today rejected a third appeal by a former soldier against his conviction for a sectarian murder in Northern Ireland more than 20 years ago.
Neil Latimer was hurried out of the Court of Appeal in Belfast still protesting his innocence.
He served 14 years of a life sentence for his part in the shooting of a Catholic in Armagh city.
Latimer appealed for an unprecedented third time, but after it was refused today he was lead away shouting: “Why do you think I went through all of this? There is no justice.”
His lawyer immediately announced they would be taking the case to Strasbourg. Mr Joe Rice said: “It is over 20 years since this dastardly murder was committed, but a miscarriage of justice has still to be put right.
“We have exhausted our appellate rights in Northern Ireland and we will be lodging papers, including the three Appeal Court judgements, for consideration of the European Court of Human Rights at the earliest opportunity.”
Latimer was released from prison under licence in 1998. He had served 14 years for the murder in Armagh city in November 1983 of Adrian Carroll, 24, a Catholic, who was shot three times by a man who ambushed him in an alleyway as he walked home from work.
The victim’s brother was a Sinn Féin councillor, and another brother, a member of the republican INLA, was shot dead by police the previous year.
Latimer was one of four soldiers in the Ulster Defence Regiment jailed for the murder in July 1986, but the other three were later freed on appeal.
His case against conviction centred on the reliability of a woman who allegedly saw him near the scene of the shooting, and confessions to the police which were later retracted. He claimed they were made under duress.
Latimer’s third appeal was heard last November in front of the then Lord Chief Justice Sir Robert Carswell, Mr Justice Campbell and Mr Justice Nicholson.
A previous appeal had been refused by the then Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Hutton, now Lord Hutton.
The hearing followed a decision by the then Secretary of State Peter Brooke to refer the case to the Court of Appeal after it emerged that 18 instances had been found in which police interview notes had been rewritten and were not, as had been said at the trial, contemporaneous notes of the interviews.
Latimer from Co Armagh refused to make any further comment after today’s judgment, but Ian Paisley Jnr, a Democratic Unionist Party member at the Northern Ireland Assembly who is heavily involved in the campaign to have the ex-UDR man’s name cleared, said he had been left shattered.
He said: “He absolutely distressed. It is a devastating judgment, which in parts is absurd. But we will continue to cry to the high heavens for justice for Neil Latimer.”