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Technicalities No Use in Appeal 2006-05-30

Posted by clype in Glasgow, Intolerance.
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Appeal judges refused yesterday to quash the convictions on grounds of legal technicalities.
The Crimes:
In 1999-09, Mr.Adams, an alcoholic former professional boxer who had a history of mental illness and stayed in a hostel in Glasgow, pushed Mr.Thomas Morgan, 46, another resident of the hostel, into the river at Glasgow Green and watched him drown. About two weeks later, he did the same to Mr.John Sinnamon, 52, another hostel resident who would have been a witness against Mr.Adams over the first death.
The Trial:

A jury acquitted Mr.Adams of murdering the men, but found him guilty of two ‘culpable homicide’ charges after psychiatrists said that he had been suffering from ‘diminished responsibility’. Mr.Adams was given two life sentences and ordered to serve at least 12 years.
The Appeal:

In his appeal, lawyers for Mr.Adams said that no part of a trial should take place outwith the presence of the accused and jurors were told routinely that they had to reach a verdict only on the evidence that they had heard in court.

However, a woman had disclosed after the trial that one of her co-jurors had said that he had visited the scene of the killings, which was close to the High Court in Glasgow where the trial was held. The woman added:

‘We had been instructed specifically not to go to the crime scene. His reaction was, “That’s where I stay, I pass that way every night”. I got the impression he went home that way, but he had taken a wee detour to have a look.’

The defence contended that the visit amounted to evidence-gathering and, therefore, part of the trial had taken place outwith the presence of the accused. Mr.Adams also complained that, without the authority of the judge, there had been a conversation about the visit between the female juror and the clerk of court while the jury was staying overnight in a hotel. It was another reason to hold that the verdicts had been invalidated, he claimed.

However, the Lord Justice-Clerk Lord Gill, who heard the appeal with Lords Macfadyen and Penrose, said both grounds would be rejected. Lord Gill added:

‘Even if there was a procedural irregularity on the part of a juror or on the part of the clerk, I consider there was no miscarriage of justice.

‘There is no evidence that the juror learned anything adverse to the defence from his visit, or that the clerk exerted any improper influence on the jury.

‘On the other hand, there was eye-witness evidence incriminating [Mr.Adams] on both charges.’

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