Coalisland priest Fr Joe Quinn cleared of perverting justice

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A case involving a priest accused of perverting the course of justice has dramatically collapsed at Dungannon Crown Court.

Fr Joseph John Quinn (50) of Ardmore Park, Coalisland was accused of committing an act tending to pervert the course of justice by communicating with two women in such a manner as to improperly pressurise or persuade them and two male relatives, not to pursue charges in the context of a criminal investigation.

The offence was alleged to have occurred on a date between 1 and 15 February 2012.

Fr Quinn maintained his innocence from the outset.

A similar charge against a former co-accused, Dungannon-based solicitor Patrick Mallon, also collapsed following a hearing at magistrates court which found he had no case to answer.

A jury was sworn in earlier this week in preparation for the trial, with three of the originally selected jurors excused as they knew Fr Quinn.

But when the hearing recovered, prosecuting counsel Mr Samuel Mageenadvised he was offering no evidence.

Judge Stephen Fowler advised Fr Quinn he was released of his bail conditions and was free to go.

Former co-accused Mallon, a leading local lawyer, said in the aftermath of having the charges thrown out that he will be lodging a “serious complaint” with the Ombudsman about the matter and would continue to look at seeking legal redress.

“Upon receiving the proceedings in this matter I never had any doubt but that I would be completely exonerated and I indicated this to the Court almost one year ago. The court has now thrown all charges out against me and I have been completely exonerated in respect of what I believe was a malicious prosecution against me and ultimately a shocking waste of tax payers’ money.”