Derry woman refused permission to re-open appeal

Brenda Meehan pictured at a previous court appearance
Brenda Meehan pictured at a previous court appearance

A Derry woman convicted of the manslaughter of a wedding guest has been refused permission to reopen her appeal against conviction.

Brenda Meehan was one of six people involved in a potentially landmark legal bid based on a Supreme Court ruling on the interpretation of ‘joint enterprise.’

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court held that joint enterprise has been wrongly applied for more than 30 years, paving the way for hundreds of appeals.

The Court of Appeal held that the six appellants, including 47-year-old Meehan, should take their cases to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) - the body set up to examine potential miscarriages of justice.

Lord Justice Gillen stressed there is no authority for re-opening previously decided cases every time a judicial adjudication clarifies or interprets the law in a particular manner.

He said: “To do so would render the legal system uncertain, incoherent and dysfunctional.”

The ruling was centred only the court’s jurisdiction and did not assess the merits of each of the six cases.

Brenda Meehan’s original murder conviction in connection with the 2007 killing of Jim McFadden in Derry was reduced on appeal to manslaughter.

Mr. McFadden (42), was beaten to death in the garden of his home in the Shantallow area following a wedding reception in Co. Donegal.

Lord Justice Gillen confirmed that permission to re-open the appeals was being denied.

“The appropriate recourse for these applicants in such circumstances is to turn to the CCRC,” he said. “If the appeal against conviction is effectively based on a change of law and nothing else, and the conviction was properly returned after a jury trial, it is unlikely that a substantial injustice will have occurred.”

All of the appellants are now expected to advance their cases before the Commission.