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How Much Does It Cost to Save a Life? Pt 5

The author is a QUB Pol Sci Honours graduate and has written extensively on imperialism, national liberation struggles and class issues.

Judge with a grudge

Judge with a grudge

After a grim, unplanned weekend, at Crumlin Road Gaol, Ryan was taken by cellular van to Belfast's High Court for a Bail application. During consultations, with his solicitor and Barrister, in the cells under the court, there was both good news and bad news. Strangely, for once the cops were not opposing bail, but one of the grimmest judges on the bench, on his way to retirement, who had been Attorney General during those halcyon days of Unionist one-party government at Stormont, would be hearing the application. Ryan had previously been in prison as a teenager and had spent his time as a 'guest' in the Irish Republican prisoner's wing, during a period of heightened tensions and violence.

As Ryan entered the courtroom, escorted by prison officers and cops, the response to his very able Barrister's application, was a whirlwind of reaction from the judge which included points such as:

  • Have you informed your client he faces the possibility of two life sentences?
  • Does your client think that being at university should prevent him from being held on remand, until his trial?
  • Your client is obviously a powerfully built man, who is involved in sports and works part-time as a 'bouncer', can this court be expected to take a chance on releasing this man given his antecedents?

On and on, the old rascal rambled, giving every reason short of sinking the Titanic for denying bail!

Very, very thankfully Ryan had an excellent Barrister, who was capable of refuting the bewigged reactionary's nonsense and was very skillfully able to have bail granted, albeit with an 8 pm to 8 am daily curfew. No doubt Ryan's cellular transport back to the prison was a brighter journey than previously. It was common practice that bailed prisoners were returned to the prison, until the 'warrants' were slowly shuttled back to the jail, possibly by horse and carriage, given the length of time it took for them to supposedly move less than a mile at full-bureaucratic speed, from the High Court about a mile away.


It would take eighteen months of adjournments, irregular behaviour on behalf of the Department of Public Prosecutions and other legal shenanigans before Ryan was afforded a trial. Gavin made a full recovery, with one operation, some months later, to reconnect tendons which had been sliced in the knife attack.

In the interim, Queens University and the Students Union had been forced to issue press releases, correcting reports that all involved in the attack had been members of that university, when in fact, Ryan was the only QUB student involved. Majella was a student at the University of Ulster and Gavin was working full-time. As for the attackers, it was unlikely that they were students of anything, except some obscure course that awarded a Minor in thuggery and a Major in getting their jaws broken.

During the period awaiting trial, Ryan saw little of Gavin, primarily due to his twelve-hour curfew and studying for his forthcoming exams. During this time, Gavin was asked to attend the police station, voluntarily, to be interviewed about the events of the night in question. Gavin attended, accompanied by a solicitor. Unknown to Ryan, but from later depositions, he became privy to, Gavin claimed to have had a complete, convenient loss of memory of the entire night in question, including 'shouldering' what were then complete strangers.

Queens University Belfast

Ryan's Alma Mater Queens University Belfast

Ryan's Alma Mater Queens University Belfast

Knife Attackers faced reduced charges in Magistrates Court, Rescuer faces Diplock Court

When Ryan was served with depositions, for the trial, some previously unknown facts became apparent, as did some very irregular occurrences during the police investigation. Such as:

  • When the main attacker admitted his guilt, under interrogation by the serious crime squad detectives, he had stated 'don't worry this will all be sorted out'. Whatever that was supposed to mean, is still unknown but did become relevant later.
  • Both attackers claimed that it was Gavin who'd started the incident earlier, before the main attack.
  • A few months before the trial, unknown to Ryan or his defence until much later, both attackers had their charges dropped down to 'Possession of an Offensive Weapon', had been dealt with at the Magistrates Court and received short-term Suspended sentences.

Something very strange was happening between the DPP and the police! Not least, that this pair had almost killed someone, yet only eventually faced minor charges in the Magistrates Court. It didn't take a paranoiac to suspect that there was some relevance in the lead attacker's statement, during interrogation, when he stated: 'don't worry this will all be sorted out'.

As for Ryan, as the trial drew near, it was made clear that there would be no charge reduction and there would be no trial before a Judge and Jury. It would be a Diplock type court and the 'friend', whose life he had saved, was refusing to give evidence. As one of Ryan's Barristers stated, during a consultation, Gavin should have been his, and indeed the court's Star Witness. In the final part of this serialization, which ends with the trial of Ryan, facing charges, whose maximum penalties were life Imprisonment, we will find out a little more about Gavin's pusillanimity and lack of loyalty to the man who saved his life.

Due to the Bail curfew, Ryan was prevented from earning money to supplement his studies.

Due to the Bail curfew, Ryan was prevented from earning money to supplement his studies.

© 2019 Liam A Ryan

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