Northern Ireland news

Shankill bomber will not face prosecution over shopping centre incident

 Shankill bomber Sean Kelly will not be prosecuted over an incident at a Belfast shopping centre last month.
Rebecca Black, PA

Shankill bomber Sean Kelly will not be prosecuted over an incident at a Belfast shopping centre last month.

A 20-second clip of video footage showing an apparent disagreement at a commercial premises on Ardoyne Avenue in north Belfast was shared widely on social media at the start of May.

Police interviewed Kelly, 46, after which a file was passed to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

The PPS said on Wednesday that there would be no prosecution over the incident.

In a statement, it said a 46-year-old man had been considered for charges of common assault, possession of an offensive weapon and disorderly behaviour.

However, it said that after “careful consideration of the available evidence submitted by police”, a senior prosecutor concluded it “did not provide a reasonable prospect of conviction for any offence”.

A PPS spokesman said: “The key evidence in this case was a clip of video footage which clearly only captured part of a continuing incident.

“It was considered that the footage, of itself, was incapable of providing a reasonable prospect of conviction for any offence. It did not provide any context to the events which had been recorded such as how any confrontation had commenced or the circumstances in which a man holding what appeared to be a thin metal rod came to be in possession of it.

“There was no evidence available from any witnesses that could have provided the missing context. In these circumstances it was considered that it would not be possible for the prosecution to prove to the criminal standard of proof any narrative of events consistent with the commission of a criminal offence.

“The evidence available was insufficient to meet the Test for Prosecution, as set out in the PPS Code for Prosecutors.

“We acknowledge the level of concern caused by the video after it was circulated on social media, and we appreciate this outcome will be disappointing to those who share those concerns.

“However, we can offer reassurance that this decision was reached only after a most careful examination and consideration of the evidence and information available.”

Kelly was convicted of the IRA’s 1993 bombing of a Shankill Road fish shop which killed nine civilians, including two children.

Another bomber, Thomas Begley, was also killed in the blast.

Kelly was handed nine life sentences for his role in the bombing, but was released in July 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

The families of some of the Shankill bomb victims had called for Kelly’s licence to be revoked over the shopping centre incident.

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