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NOT GUILTY: Patrick Livingstone relaxing on the Falls after his conviction was quashed NOT GUILTY: Patrick Livingstone relaxing on the Falls after his conviction was quashed
By Staff Reporter

A Falls man who spent over 17 years in prison after being convicted of one of the most notorious Troubles murders in West Belfast has had his conviction quashed.

We reported last month that Patrick Livingstone (62) had had his case referred back to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission. That appeal was heard last month and on Tuesday three appeal judges announced their ruling. They overturned Mr Livingstone’s conviction, saying they had a  “significant sense of unease” about the verdict.”

Patrick Livingstone was found guilty in May 1977 of the IRA shooting of Belfast City Council worker Samuel Llewellyn, who had been abducted and killed while repairing broken windows in the lower Falls after a bomb exploded in August 1975. The shooting caused widespread anger throughout the Falls, with local people placing a sympathy notice in the local press expressing their support for the Llewellyn family and their condemnation of the murder.

At his non-jury trial at the Belfast City Commission at Crumlin Road in 1977, the Lenadoon man pleaded not guilty to the killing of Mr Llewellyn (26) and was sentenced to ‘natural life’, meaning that he was to remain in prison until he died. He was convicted of the killing solely on the basis of an oral statement he was alleged to have made to three RUC officers in Dundalk Garda station in 1975 – a statement he has always strongly denied making.

His trial lasted just three hours – ending in early afternoon after an hour’s break for lunch. It is believed to have­ been the shortest murder trial in modern legal history in which the defendant pleaded not guilty.

Mr Livingstone was classified ‘red book’ high security on his arrival in Long Kesh. He spent his 17-plus years there under the toughest security conditions in the British prison system. He was released in 1994 and in 2007 applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission for a review of his conviction, beginning a battle for justice which ended successfully this week at the High Court in Belfast. Speaking to the Andersonstown News yesterday, Mr Livingstone said there were many other people who had spent long periods behind bars after similarly unsafe convictions and he urged them to contact a solicitor or the prisoners support group Coiste na nIarchimí for advice on the way forward.

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