European court rejects application from Belfast woman whose son was killed by RUC officer

European court rejects application from Belfast woman whose son was killed by RUC officer

The European Court of Human Rights' decision on Thursday said it did not have jurisdiction over the case as no new evidence had come to light.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has rejected an application from a Belfast woman whose son was shot and killed by an RUC officer in 1992.

Pearse Jordan was shot dead by an RUC officer after the stolen car he was driving was involved in a collision with a police vehicle on Belfast’s Falls Road in 1992. 

His killing sparked outrage after witnesses claimed he was shot several times in the back by an unnamed RUC sergeant while trying to run away after his stolen car was rammed by a police vehicle.

His mother Theresa had complained about the delay between the ECHR’s 2001 judgment concerning her son’s death and the conclusion of the third inquest in 2016. Ms Jordan said this delay breached Article 2 and Article 13 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Following the shooting, the RUC conducted an investigation, on the basis of which the Department of Public Prosecutions decided not to prosecute any RUC officer. 

A coroner’s inquest commenced on January 4, 1995, and was adjourned later that month. The inquest was still pending in 2001, when the European court first considered the effectiveness of the investigation in a case taken by Mr Jordan's father, Hugh.

In finding a violation of the procedural limb of Article 2, the court identified a number of shortcomings, including that the inquest proceedings had not commenced promptly and had taken too long. The court awarded Mr Jordan £10,000.

Second inquest

A second inquest into the death of Pearse Jordan commenced on September 24, 2012, and a verdict given in October 2012.

Hugh Jordan brought three judicial review applications challenging various aspects of the second inquest by reference to Article 2 of the Convention. He also sought a declaration that the delay in commencing the inquest was incompatible with Article 2. 

The High Court quashed the verdict of the second inquest and held that the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) had delayed its progress in breach of the Article 2 procedural requirement and awarded £7,500 in compensation.

The Court of Appeal ordered that a further inquest be heard.

An appeal by the chief constable against the award of damages was stayed pending conclusion of the third inquest which commenced on February 7, 2016, and concluded on April 21, 2016. 

The verdict was the subject of an unsuccessful judicial review challenge by Ms Jordan and an unsuccessful appeal. In 2019, the Court of Appeal reduced the award of damages against the PSNI to £5,000. In its view, the only culpable delay on the part of the PSNI had arisen between March 2007 and May 2008.

On March 29, 2021, the Supreme Court refused Ms Jordan leave to appeal.

The ECHR's decision on Thursday said it did not have jurisdiction over the case as no new evidence had come to light.

"No new aspects or issues had arisen in the facts of this case. While it was regrettable that 11 years had elapsed between the court’s 2001 judgment and the start of the second inquest, in view of the fact that the court had already found a violation of the procedural limb of Article 2, which included a finding that the investigation had not been started promptly and had not been carried out quickly enough, it did not have jurisdiction to now re-examine the issue of investigative delay."

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