Ivor Bell: Voice analyst called in for Jean McConville murder case

Ivor Bell: Voice analyst called in for Jean McConville murder case
BBC News
30 October 2014

A voice analyst has been enlisted in the case of an alleged former IRA commander accused of involvement in the murder of one of the Disappeared.

Ivor Bell, 77, is alleged to have aided and abetted in the murder of mother-of-ten Jean McConville who was abducted from her west Belfast home in 1972.

Mr Bell’s lawyer told Belfast Magistrates Court the evidence against him “did not amount to a row of beans”.

Mr Bell, from Ramoan Gardens in west Belfast, was arrested in March.

Prosecutors said that an expert report was being sought as Mr Bell’s lawyer claimed he was “being treated unfairly compared to British soldiers who opened fire on Bloody Sunday”.

Mrs McConville was seized by the IRA from her Divis Flats home in west Belfast, shot dead and then secretly buried.

The case against Ivor Bell centres on an interview he allegedly gave to US researchers from Boston College who interviewed several former paramilitaries about their roles in the Northern Ireland conflict.

Abduct

Although transcripts were not to be published until after the deaths of those who took part, last year a US court ordered that the tapes should be handed over to PSNI detectives investigating Mrs McConville’s killing.

It is alleged that Mr Bell was one of the Boston interviewees, given the title Z, who spoke about the circumstances surrounding the decision to abduct her.

The accused, who is currently on bail, denies any role in events surrounding the murder, claiming he was not even in the city at the time.

A Public Prosecution Service (PPS) lawyer said a voice analysis report has been requested. She added that senior counsel has been asked to study the case and provide an opinion.

However, the defence lawyer argued that it was “untenable” for PPS to have yet to make a decision on whether to continue with the prosecution.

As well as challenging the need to bring in a voice expert, he described his client as an elderly man facing the stress of being charged with conflict-related offences.

According to the lawyer, resource constraints have impacted on the PSNI’s ability to properly investigate other episodes from the Troubles.

‘Treated equally’

He cited the Bloody Sunday case where British troops killed 13 civil rights marchers in Derry, and the activities of the loyalist Glenanne gang – a sectarian murder squad that allegedly included rogue members of the police and Army.

“My client is entitled to be treated equally before the law,” Mr Corrigan said.

“If he’s treated in some way differently from the soldiers on Bloody Sunday… it’s something we intend to put forward as part of an application: why is Ivor Bell and why is everybody not being treated equally for conflict-related offences?”

However, the judge agreed to a PPS request to adjourn the case for six weeks.

“I appreciate the frustration for Mr Bell in this, but we are where we are. This just takes time.”

Bell was released on continuing bail to return to court in December.