Withholding information charges to proceed

The prosecution of a man accused of withholding information in relation to the murder of Paul McCauley is to proceed, a judge has ruled.

Defence counsel for 61-year-old Charles Buckingham had argued that a court in Northern Ireland did not have jurisdiction to hear the case as the conversation which gives rise to the charges took place in Scotland.

They also argued that as there is no similar offence in the rest of the UK the case should not proceed.

Buckingham, with an address in Margate, Kent, is charged with withholding information regarding an arrestable offence on December 12, last year.

It is alleged this information is about the murder of Paul McCauley and the assaults of two other men.

Mr. McCauley died in June 2015, nine years after he was injured in a sectarian attack.

Two men are currently on bail charged with his murder.

District Judge Barney McElholm said he would deliver a more ‘reasoned and complete judgement’ in Buckingham’s case next week.

However, he said he has reached the conclusion that the offence was committed in N. Ireland and the case should proceed.

The judge told the court that while the defendant had never set foot in N. Ireland, he had received information about a serious crime committed here.

He said the law is “very clear that you don’t have to be physically present in a jursidiction for an offence to be committed in that jurisdiction.”

The judge added that one ‘also has to bare in mind the whole nature of communications’ and a phone call could have been made.

Judge McElholm said that in his opinion the 61-year-old is ‘quite clearly connected’ to the offences and they were ‘quite clearly committed in Northern Ireland.”

The judge said he thought it “extraordinary, particularly in these times that England, Scotland and Wales don’t have any offence of withholding information about serious crime. It is a startling example of how in this United Kingdom we have different laws in this little place. On this occasion I think we got it right and I think there should be an offence of withholding information about serious crime’.

The case was adjourned until July 27.