Scientist casts doubt on convicted murderer's confession

A confession made by a Co Galway man convicted of the murder of an elderly woman over 25 years ago was the work of more than one person, a scientist told the Court of Criminal Appeal today.

A confession made by a Co Galway man convicted of the murder of an elderly woman over 25 years ago was the work of more than one person, a scientist told the Court of Criminal Appeal today.

Dr Michael George Farringdon, who was giving evidence in an appeal brought by Galway man Michael Joseph Kelly who is seeking to quash his conviction for the murder of 8- year-old Margret Glynn, said that by using a method known as the QSUM method, which is used to analyse authorship, he was able to deduce that the confession that Mr Kelly gave to gardaí in November was the work or more than one person.

Mr Kelly (aged 54), of Castleblakeny, Ballinasloe, Co Galway was convicted on March 24, 1983 of the murder of Margaret Glynn at Keeves, Ballinkore Bridge, Co Galway, on the night of November 14/15, 1981.

Kelly has always denied killing Mrs Glynn and fully protests his innocence, and claims he is the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

In 1981 the bodies of Mrs Glynn and her brother Martin were removed from the house by firefighters after a fire. Martin was found to have died of natural causes.

As part of his appeal Mr Kelly claims that scientific evidence casts grave doubts over a statement of confession allegedly made by Kelly, where he admits putting a blanket over Mrs Glynn's face and strangling her, to the Detective Sergeant Joseph Shelly and Sergeant Patrick Lynagh in Ballinasloe garda station following his arrest in November 1981.

The prosecution claimed Mrs Glynn died of asphyxia due to manual strangulation.

It was alleged Mr Kelly, who was working for the Glynns at the time, had strangled Mrs Glynn and then set fire to her bed.

Mr Kelly was convicted of her murder and given a life sentence, but was released on licence over a decade ago.

Today at the three-judge CCA Dr Farringdon told counsel for Mr Kelly, Anthony Sammon SC, that as part of his analysis he had used the transcript of what Mr Kelly's had said during his trial in 1983, to what was contained in the confession he is said to have made to the gardaí.

His conclusion was that confession was the work of more than one person.

Under cross examination by Counsel for the DPP Mr Tom O'Connell Dr Farringdon rejected claims that the method used to arrive at his deductions was not accepted by the wider scientific community.

While he admitted that it is not widely used, and that he had no knowledge of it being used in court cases in North America, he said that his services had been requested by a number of agencies and bodies in the UK and the US.

He also told the court that recently researchers from Switzerland had discovered that QSUM analysis could be applied to French as well as English.

Yesterday the Northern Ireland State Pathologist Professor Jack Crane, who had studied the original autopsy of Margret Glynn carried out by former State Pathologist John Harbison, said that while he agreed with most of what was in the autopsy he did not agree with Professor Harbison's conclusion that Mrs Glynn had died as a result of manual strangulation.

However Dr Crane told Counsel for Mr O'Connell that he agreed with Prof. Harbison that there was nothing to indicate that Mrs Glynn died of natural causes.

He added that the levels of carbon monoxide found in Mrs Glynn's system indicated that she was not breathing when the fire started.

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