Gerry McGeough loses court challenge over IRA membership

Gerry McGeough  INTT0711-139JS
Gerry McGeough INTT0711-139JS

A man jailed for trying to kill a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment has failed to convince the Supreme Court that he was unfairly convicted of being a member of the IRA.

Gerry McGeough, who is in his 50s, had mounted the latest round of a legal challenge more than 30 years after Samuel Brush was ambushed and shot near Aughnacloy, County Tyrone.

He claimed that a judge had been wrong to take into account evidence about his IRA membership in the 1970s and 1980s at a trial.

But a panel of five Supreme Court justices dismissed his claim after a hearing in London earlier this year.

Justices said McGeough had left Ireland and made an unsuccessful bid for asylum in Sweden after Mr Brush was ambushed in June 1981.

He had then been arrested in 2007 in County Fermanagh and was convicted of attempted murder and possessing a firearm and of having been a member of the IRA, after a trial at Belfast Crown Court five years ago

McGeough had told Swedish authorities that he had been an IRA member when making his asylum application in 1983.

The trial judge, Mr Justice Stephens - who sat without a jury, had decided that he could take that information into account when making decisions on McGeough’s guilt or innocence.

McGeough claimed that the judge had acted unfairly.

He suggested that information he had given to Swedish authorities was confidential and said its use as evidence against him offended a “rule against self-incrimination”.

But the Supreme Court backed Mr Justice Stephens’ decision and said he had rightly taken what McGeough had said to Swedish authorities into account.

Appeal judges had earlier also ruled against McGeough.

Supreme Court justices said in a ruling that there was no requirement for material disclosed by an asylum applicant to be “preserved in confidence for all time”. They said Mr Justice Stephens had been “plainly right”.

McGeough was given a 20-year jail term in April 2011 following the trial in Belfast. He was released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement more than two years ago.