Guardian online - The Telegraph online - A Great British Injustice: The Maguire Story TV -
Convictions against the Maguire Seven were ruled unsafe in 1990 after an inquiry exposed disturbing holes in the police's forensic evidence.
The seven – who included Gerard Conlon’s father Guiseppe and his ailing aunt – were convicted of running an IRA bomb factory in north London in 1974.
Mr Conlon died in prison in 1980 while serving his 12-year sentence. He was cleared posthumously.
However, three appeal court judges found that traces of nitroglycerine found on their hands and gloves could have been the result of innocent contamination. Guardian online article Mark Oliver 15th January 2002
The four were all convicted on the basis of false confessions extracted after physical abuse and threats by Surrey police while detained under anti-terrorism laws. Among the coerced confessions was the assertion that the Maguire household was a bomb factory.
Police found no evidence of bomb-making, but they took swabs from under the fingernails of the family. Using later discredited forensic tests they said the family had handled the explosive nitroglycerine.
Seven people were jailed: Patrick, by then aged 14; his brother Vincent, 17; both their parents; Anne Maguire’s brother William Smyth; her brother in law Guiseppe Conlon (Gerry’s father) and a family friend, Patrick O’Neill. Patrick and Vincent were given sentences of four and five years respectively; their parents 14 years; their uncles and Patrick O’Neill 12 years.
The Maguire Seven all served their sentences apart from Guiseppe Conlon, who died in prison in 1980. In 1991 the Court of Appeal quashed their convictions after it ruled the evidence was unsafe.
When Patrick was arrested, a policeman turned to him and whispered: ‘By the time you get out of prison, you’ll be an old man. And you’ll not see your mum and dad again.’
‘That was the moment my childhood ended,’ Patrick says. The Telegraph online article Richard Holt 28th April 2010
This is the story of what British justice has done to an entire family, and at the heart of this what it has done to a 13 year old who is to this very day damaged as a result. A Great British Injustice: The Maguire Story, BBC 2018
He said, ‘I’d like to take you in there the woods and blow your fucking brains out … He had a gun against my head.’ ibid. young victim
The early 1970s in Northern Ireland was the most intense period of operation for the provisional IRA. In 1972 they took their bombing campaign to Britain. ibid.
Annie McGuire had lived in England for 20 years … One of the biggest miscarriages of justice in British legal history. ibid.
8 innocent people were being brought to police stations across London and Guildford. ibid.
It didn’t take long for the interrogations to turn violent. ibid.