Veteran republican cleared of soliciting murder of mother of 10 in 1972

A veteran republican has been cleared of soliciting the murder of a mother of 10 in 1972, after a trial which heard a claim that Gerry Adams recommended her secret burial.

The former Sinn Fein president rejected the allegation as he appeared as a witness at a trial of the facts into two charges against Ivor Bell.

Five of Jean McConville’s surviving children were at Belfast Crown Court on Thursday as a jury of four women and eight men found Mr Bell not guilty of encouraging her murder.

Jean McConville
Jean McConville (PA)

Mr Bell, 82, of Ramoan Gardens in Belfast, was not present for the trial of the facts which came after he was found medically unfit to stand trial in December last year. He was excused from attending due to his health.

Judge Mr Justice O’Hara directed the jury to return a verdict of not guilty having earlier ruled that taped interviews, which were the central plank of the prosecution case, were inadmissible.

“As a result of some legal rulings which have been made over the last two days there is now no evidence that the prosecution can put before you to support the case it was putting against Mr Bell,” he said.

“My role now is to direct you to return a verdict of not guilty because you simply cannot find him to have done the acts alleged.”

The judge also lifted restrictions that had prevented reporting of the two-week trial of the facts.

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