Murdered Donegal man’s family demand answers

Gardaí have serious questions to answer family members claim

Eamonn McFadden

Reporter:

Eamonn McFadden

The late Seamus Doherty.

The late Seamus Doherty.

The family of murdered Donegal man Seamus Doherty are asking for detailed reasons as to why the prosecution of a man accused of his murder was halted.
On Monday the State withdrew a charge of murder against 53-year-old Samuel James Clarke, from Magherennan, Raphoe, who was charged with murdering Mr Doherty at his home in Churchill on June 17th, 2012.
Mr Clarke was due to go on trial at the Central Criminal Court on Monday morning when the State said it would not be proceeding with the prosecution.
It is understood the death of a witness in January caused the prosecution to be halted.
The Doherty family learned earlier this month that a Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) investigation resulted in one member of An Garda Síochána being found in breach of garda regulations.
The family now say they want answers to serious questions about how the investigation was handled.
Catriona Doherty, daughter of Seamus, said the family are devastated at the decision not to proceed with the prosecution
“We consider that An Garda Síochána has serious questions to answer regarding its failure to properly preserve the crime scene and to conduct a proper technical examination leading to crucial lost evidential opportunities which, coupled with the inexcusable delay in bringing the prosecution, has irredeemably prejudiced the prospect of the State securing a successful conviction,” she said.
“We will now be asking the DPP for detailed reasons for the decision to halt the prosecution and will be applying to the Coroner to resume the inquest into our father’s murder. We will also consider all available legal remedies open to us.”
Mr Doherty’s brother, Eamonn, said there are serious questions around the investigation.
"The most important question here is why was the body moved from the scene?
“Why was it that the first time the state pathologist saw the body was in the hospital in Letterkenny and not at the scene. When the body was taken from the scene, crucial evidence went with it. Why was the body not left at the scene and the scene preserved?”
“This is a case that should have been wrapped up a long time ago. Why was there such a delay in getting the wheels in motion by the Director of Public Prosecutions? Is the DPP trying to say that because one of the people in the house that night is not alive all evidence in relation to the murder is not alive either?
“Can these people not shed any light on what happened?
“I feel the whole thing is a pantomime. It's been acknowledged that Seamus had no alcohol in his system the night he was killed and he certainly didn't kill himself.
“He was a fit man and I have no doubt would have put up a fair struggle.
“Did the gardaí who came to the scene not realise that he had been murdered or did a major clean-up of the scene take place before they arrived? Surely this scene should have been preserved?"
He added: "There are a few murders unsolved in Donegal and Seamus's is just one of them.
The difference with this one is that there were people knowingly in the house when he died.
The same can't be said about the other murders still not solved."