Evidence from deceased former co-accused unfairly used against Derry businessman, court told

Evidence from a deceased former co-accused was unfairly used against a Derry businessman found guilty of dumping illegal waste, the Court of Appeal was told on Tuesday.

Lawyers for Thomas McGlinchey, 63, claimed the statement provided by his alleged accomplice should have been excluded at the trial.

McGlinchey, who was a director in Brickkiln Waste Ltd., is seeking to overturn his conviction for offences related to the discovery of 7,600 tonnes of non-compliant waste in Derry.

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Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) officials observed a lorry dumping at the site on Carmoney Road, Eglinton in October 2013.

Household and commercial waste, food packaging, carpet, plasterboard, construction and demolition products were all discovered.

It was estimated that dumping the rubbish equated to saving more than £1m from not disposing of it at licenced facilities.

The site was owned by co-defendant Robert Lynch.

In March last year McGlinchey, of Belfield Park in the city, was convicted by a jury on counts of unlawfully keeping and depositing waste.

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He received an 18-month sentence, suspended for three years.

Mr. Lynch had also been charged as part of the same investigation, but was formally acquitted after his prosecution was discontinued in 2021.

He then agreed to provide a statement on behalf of the Crown and was expected to be a prosecution witness in the case against McGlinchey.

However, Mr. Lynch died in July 2022.

McGlinchey’s legal representatives argued that evidence from the deceased was wrongly allowed to feature.

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Desmond Fahy KC, instructed by solicitor Jack Quigley, told the Court of Appeal: “That statement should not have been admitted at the trial of the appellant.”

Mr. Fahy contended there should have been greater focus on a legislative checklist to ensure fairness in the criminal process.

The barrister stressed the ‘coalescence’ of issues about the witness being both a former accused and no longer available for cross-examination.

“The evidence given by Mr. Lynch in the statement was, on any reading, inimicable to the appellant,” counsel submitted to the court.

Reserving judgment in the appeal, Lady Chief Justice Dame Siobhan Keegan pledged to give a decision as soon as possible.