Queen v Neil Fraser Latimer

JurisdictionNorthern Ireland
JudgeCarswell LCJ
Judgment Date2004
Neutral Citation[2004] NICA 3
Date09 February 2004
CourtCourt of Appeal (Northern Ireland)
Neutral Citation no [2004] NICA 3 Ref:
Judgment: approved by the Court for handing down Delivered:
(subject to editorial corrections)
Before: Carswell LCJ, Nicholson LJ and Campbell LJ
[1] The appellant Neil Fraser Latimer was on 1 July 1986 found guilty, along
with three other defendants, by Kelly LJ sitting without a jury of the murder
of Adrian Carroll on 8 November 1983 and sentenced to imprisonment for
life. The defendants all appealed against their conviction, but their appeals
were dismissed by this court on 4 May 1988. The case was on 25 July 1991
referred to the court by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland under the
provisions of section 14(1)(a) of the Criminal Appeal (Northern Ireland) Act
1980. After consideration of fresh evidence adduced the court allowed the
appeals of the other three defendants, but dismissed the appeal of this
[2] The appellant was released from prison in 1998, but by a reference dated
9 May 2001 and made under the powers contained in the Criminal Appeal
Act 1995 the Criminal Cases Review Commission referred the appellant’s case
once again to this court for a review of the conviction. Under section 9(2) of
that Act the matter then was treated as an appeal from the appellant’s
conviction. It was heard by a court differently constituted from that which
considered the two earlier appeals. We gave the appellant leave to call fresh
evidence, consisting of the testimony of Dr FWA Browne, Lord Alderdice and
Professor Gisli Gudjonsson. Dr Philip Joseph and Dr Michael Heap were,
with the leave of the court, called on behalf of the Crown. We heard the
appeal between 17 and 26 November 2003 and reserved our decision. This
judgment, which is the judgment of the court, contains our decision and our
reasons for reaching it.
[3] The material facts have been set out in meticulous detail by the trial
judge and in the judgments of this court on the earlier appeals, and we refer
to them for the full account of the incident out of which the prosecution arose,
the police investigation and interviews of the defendants and the course of the
evidence given at trial. We have considered all the evidence given at trial,
together with the fresh evidence given on the second appeal and the reference
before us. It is not necessary for us to recount all of this in the present
judgment and we shall confine ourselves to a summary of the facts material to
our present consideration.
The Factual Background
[4] On 8 November 1983 shortly after 4.30 pm Adrian Carroll was shot in an
alleyway off Abbey Street, Armagh, close to the house in which he lived. The
gunman fired three shots with a handgun, inflicting wounds from which
Carroll died that evening. The gunman was seen by an eyewitness Elaine
Faulkner (later Mrs Dunne), then a girl of 17 years, going up Abbey Street and
into the alleyway, from which she said she heard two shots a few moments
later. She saw a man lying in the alleyway and took fright, running to her
place of work nearby and then reporting the matter to the police. In her
statement made that day to the police she described the gunman as being “20-
25 years, about 5’ 1” or 5” 2”, small build, wearing a light blue duffle coat and
a tartan or check cap, small sort of face and he had a light moustache and
wore ordinary type glasses with a gold rim.” She said that she would know
the man again and that she thought he had dirty fair hair, tidy cut, and had on
light casual shoes. She repeated and adhered to this description in her
evidence, but omitted any reference to shoes and said that she was not sure
about the moustache. In cross-examination she stated that the man whom she
saw was definitely not Latimer, whom she knew to speak to, as he was a
neighbour of hers at the time of the incident.
[5] The news media carried reports of the shooting, some at least of which
referred to the gunman as being of medium build and wearing a tartan or
checked cap and gold-rimmed glasses. On 22 November 1983 a woman who
lived in the Armagh area and who was known for the purposes of the trial as
Mrs A, contacted an Armagh priest Father Murray and told him that she had
seen a man dressed in civilian clothes, wearing a tartan cap and gold-rimmed
glasses, accompanying two UDR soldiers from the technical college in
Lonsdale Street, Armagh into a UDR Land Rover shortly before 4.30 pm on 8
November. She said that she recognised him immediately as the appellant,
whom she knew well from having worked with him in her previous
employment. She was surprised to see him so dressed, for he did not
ordinarily wear glasses. She put the incident down to a joke, until she heard
of the shooting of Carroll and the description of the gunman given on the
news. The police were contacted and interviewed Mrs A on 2 December. She
made a formal written statement to them on that date.
[6] In consequence of the information which she had given them they
arrested the appellant on 29 November and interviewed him at length over a
period of seven days. On the evening of 29 November the appellant made
oral and written admissions in which he confessed to having shot Carroll. On
the morning of 30 November he retracted the admissions, which he termed all
lies, and maintained this stance for some time. He continued to deny his
involvement over a number of subsequent interviews, then commenced to
qualify his denials, until on 2 December he again admitted shooting Carroll,
though this time he gave a different version of his part in the incident and the
preceding and subsequent events. We shall return later in this judgment to
examine in greater detail the evidence of Mrs A given at trial and the course
of the interviews of the appellant.
The Trial and Appeals
[7] The case presented by the Crown at the trial of the appellant and his co-
defendants was that they had concocted a clever plan to provide an alibi for
the appellant, who was purportedly on a UDR patrol all day long in a Land
Rover, whereas he in fact changed into civilian clothes and tailed and shot
Carroll before rejoining the patrol group and changing back into uniform. He
arrived shortly afterwards back at the police station, along with the other
occupants of his Land Rover, as if he had been with them on duty all day.
The incident seen by Mrs A at Lonsdale Street was a charade designed to
make it appear that the appellant was a civilian who was being arrested by
soldiers and placed in the Land Rover. It was only the fact that he was
recognised by Mrs A in spite of his disguise that proved their undoing and
led to the apprehension of the appellant and the other soldiers involved.
Latimer’s counsel advanced the case on his behalf that the incident recounted
by Mrs A was a complete fiction, designed to discredit the UDR, and that
neither Latimer nor any other soldiers had had anything to do with the
shooting of Adrian Carroll.
[8] After a lengthy trial the learned trial judge found the appellant and three
of the other defendants guilty of murder. He admitted the appellant’s
confessions in evidence and accepted that their contents and the evidence of
Mrs A were a true and reliable account of the Lonsdale Street incident and the
subsequent shooting. He held that Mrs Dunne’s evidence that the gunman
was not the appellant was an incorrect statement, but did not find it necessary
to decide whether that evidence was falsely given or a gross error, or if falsely
given why it should be. He therefore was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt
that the appellant was guilty of the murder of Adrian Carroll.

To continue reading

Request your trial
2 cases
1 books & journal articles

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT