How the Metropolitan Police stitched up an innocent man for the death of another in Hammersmith Police Station in December 1990.
Over the years there have been many miscarriages of justice cases in Britain. None though can compare with what happened at Christmas 1990, when an innocent man was stitched up for the murder in Hammersmith Police Station of Patrick Quinn.
Malcolm Kennedy from Hackney was a middle aged slightly built man with no history of violence when he was arrested for drunkenness in the early hours of Christmas Eve 1990. He was taken to Hammersmith Police station and locked in a cell where he fell asleep. Shortly after Patrick Quinn, originally from Donegal in Ireland but a long term London resident, was also arrested for being drunk and placed in the same cell.
Kennedy alleges that he was later woken by a struggle in the cell between a police officer and Quinn and that when he tried to intervene he was punched unconscious. When he was subsequently woken up by 3 police officers it was to find himself viewing his cellmates body on the floor with all but one of his ribs smashed, his heart and spleen crushed and his face pulped. If that was horrifying enough it was to get a whole lot worse for Kennedy when he was told “you did this”, a charge he disputed from the very start.
If Kennedy really had done it then the police investigation into his alleged murder was hardly top notch because officers then cleaned the uniforms they were supposed to hand over for forensic tests, the log book showing who visited the cell was "lost" (just one of several vital documents which disappeared) and procedures for calling in the Police Complaints Authority and pathologist were not followed.
Nevertheless when he was put on trial the jury backed the case against him and Malcolm Kennedy was convicted of Quinn’s murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in mid 1991.
This however was not the end of the matter. New witnesses, present in the police station on the night of Quinn’s death, were located by Kennedy’s solicitors and meanwhile a World in Action TV [*] investigation heavily questioned the police’s version of events by alleging that the time of another arrest had been altered in order to get 2 officers - Emlyn Welsh and Paul Giles - out of Hammersmith Police station at the time Quinn died.
With the media spotlight now firmly on the case it went back to the Court of Appeal on 11.2.93, where a retrial was ordered to allow a new jury to hear all the evidence.
When this took place in September 1993 PC Welsh revealed that he had in fact now "found" his "lost" notebook. He'd had it in a wallet stuck behind his new pocketbook and had carried it around for months without knowing! Unfortunately for PC Welsh when he was asked to show where he'd had the notebook he couldn't fit it back into the wallet.
It had taken nearly three years to find one piece of lost evidence. Yet, some might say, remarkably another came along within hours. PC Giles was performing badly in the witness box when another officer, sitting in court as an Exhibits Officer suddenly found as he flicked through a file a vital piece of missing evidence - a computer aided dispatch [CAD] print out that provided support for the timings PC Giles was claiming.
Despite three previous separate investigations having searched that file for that piece of evidence, and not found it, the Judge refused to accept that this was a forgery and the trial had to be abandoned.
Sadly by the time the re-trial commenced PC Giles was declared mentally unfit to give evidence claiming he could suffer irreparable mental damage if he went into the witness box. Giles was a key witness, and his absence Kennedy’s legal team argued prevented him having a fair trial, a charge dismissed by the Judge.
At the end of the trial Kennedy was, in fact, found not guilty of murder. This, of course, presented the state with something of a difficulty as clearly a man whose injuries included 33 fractured ribs and a crushed heart and larynx hadn’t died accidentally. Kennedy ‘getting off’ would inevitably throw the spotlight on who had done the crime.
With the Jury placed under considerable pressure from the judge to reach a decision Kennedy was found guilty of manslaughter, a perverse judgment as Quinn’s injuries clearly indicated he’d been brutally murdered.
Kennedy was sentenced to 9 years imprisonment. Thankfully for him there were now plenty of people convinced of his innocence, including Celia Stubbs, the partner of Blair Peach, killed by the Metropolitan Police during protests against the National Front in Southall in April 1979.
In the late 80s and throughout much of the following decade Stubbs was actively involved with Hackney Community Defence Association [HCDA], which later merged into the independent self-financed Colin Roach Centre. HCDA, together with members of the Irish community based at the Irish Centre in Hammersmith, formed the Justice for Patrick Quinn, Free Malcolm Kennedy campaign and were to regularly picket Hammersmith Police Station over many years.
In 1996 in the lead up to Kennedy’s appeal against his conviction an early day House of Commons motion attracted 65 signatures. This was made on the grounds that the trial judge wrongly exercised his discretion by deciding that PC Giles was medically unfit to give evidence and then in his absence allowing transcripts of his evidence in previous hearings to be read out in open court. Further, that it was an abuse of process for the second re-trial to continue without PC Giles giving evidence.
However on Tuesday 16th July 1996 Kennedy’s appeal against his manslaughter conviction was lost. The 3 High Court Judges would not accept any of the grounds put forward by Mike Mansfield QC, Kennedy’s barrister, and would not accept that Kennedy had not had a fair trial.
Later, when he had been released from prison, Kennedy’s attempts to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights were also unsuccessful. For some this might have been the end of the matter, but no sane person wants to go to their grave having been wrongly convicted of another man’s death, even if it is of the lesser charge of manslaughter rather than murder. Kennedy was determined to legally prove he did not kill Patrick Quinn, a man he had never previously met.
During the protracted court cases officers from Hammersmith Police station had disputed ever previously knowing who Patrick Quinn was prior to his arrest for drunkenness. The implication was clear, there was no motive for police officers to attack Quinn.
And yet seven years ago, and thirteen years after Quinn’s death someone who knew him well came forward after he saw an appeal for new witnesses in the Irish press. The man had waited until he moved back to Northern Ireland, after forty years on London building sites, before making contact.
What he revealed was amazing. Campaigners had never previously heard of Joseph Fallon, but it turned out he had also died in Hammersmith Police Station three years before Quinn did the same. The witness had only found out about Fallon from a friend a month after his death, following which he rang the police about finding the dead man’s relatives in Ireland in order to help arrange a funeral. A search of the records revealed that Fallon died in police custody at Hammersmith on September 17th 1987. He had a ruptured liver. Because of the circumstances an Inquest was held at which his death was recorded as natural causes
Interesting, but what had that to do with Quinn? “They were best friends.”
So much so that the man alleges that three years later at 7.00am on December 24th 1990 he was rung by the police to be told that Patrick Quinn had died in Hammersmith Police Station.
He had known Quinn’s since meeting him at a friends wedding in 1967 in Hammersmith. Over the next 23 years he frequently worked with him on various sites and also enjoyed the odd pint or two. “He was a very respectable Irish man who would stick up for his rights” leading to him having “the odd argument” including with the police. According to the man Quinn, like Fallon, was a passionate Republican.
The man claims; “that the police would have the odd go at Quinn now and again” - something he says he heard from the men he was transporting to and from work on various building sites.
Asked why he thought the police had contacted him less than 6 hours after Quinn had been confirmed as being dead in the Police Station the Tyrone man, who is married and has two grown up children, felt “it could have been because they had my name in there because of Joe Fallon. My opinion would be that they [the police] knew Patrick Quinn knew Joe Fallon” and as such the man was contacted because of his concern three years earlier when Fallon died.
This would indicate that if true, certainly one or more officers had already made the connection in a matter of a few hours between Quinn’s death and that of Joseph Fallon three years earlier at the same station. In effect, at least, one officer knew that the dead man was Patrick Quinn and that he was a friend of a man who had died earlier in the same station.
The implications are clear, but when Kennedy through his legal team tried to get the Criminal Cases Review Commission [CCRC] to look at the new evidence he was told they wouldn’t commit any resources into taking their own statement.
It has left Kennedy frustrated, especially as he alleges that since he left prison he has faced constant harassment in the form of “highly intrusive and unlawful surveillance” including interference with his phones, mail and emails. All of which he claims has had the effect of blocking him from going about his everyday affairs whilst preventing potential customers making contact with his removals firm and thus losing him a lot of business.
Kennedy’s attempts to pursue a legal case here in Britain and in the European Court of Human Rights on this have proven unsuccessful
Kennedy is not hopeful of having his conviction overturned saying on the 20th anniversary of the death of Patrick Quinn that he’d “love to believe, but I think it’s unlikely that my manslaughter conviction will be overturned in my lifetime.
I feel the statement that was obtained in October 2003, disproving the police claims about not knowing Patrick Quinn when they arrested him, was new evidence and yet the CCRC wouldn’t commit any resources into taking their own statement and consequently I am blocked from appealing against my conviction.
It may be twenty years on but I am still haunted by what happened in 1990, especially as I am still being harassed due to an ongoing police interest in me. I hoped this would stop when I formally stopped campaigning a few years ago in order to enjoy some relative peace. Sadly that hasn’t proven to be the case, and I still find my phones, emails and letters being interfered with and I suspect that will continue until my death.
But, I repeat, and always will - I was not responsible for the death of Patrick Quinn in Hammersmith Police Station on December 23rd 1990.”
“ I hope that one day Malcolm Kennedy and the family of Patrick Quinn will both know the truth about what happened in Hammersmith Police Station in December 1990, and that those responsible for an innocent mans death are brought to justice” Celia Stubbs.
[*] In 1998 GRANADA television made one of the biggest libel settlements in legal history after it issued a full apology in the High Court to PC’s Paul Giles, Peter Bleakley and Emlyn Welsh for what The Independent reported was ‘wrongly implicating them of covering up a murder in a World in Action programme…the settlement, to include £100,000 to each Metropolitan Police officer and their costs of £1.2 m, comes after a six-year battle…….A spokesman for the officers' solicitors, Russell Jones and Walker, said the men were pleased the case had concluded in their favour, but "this will never make up for the damage caused to these entirely innocent and blameless men. Viewers were left with the impression that it was a police officer who had murdered Patrick Quinn."