It is I’m afraid with a heavy heart I say that Sean’s appeal was rejected today. I don’t have any details as yet, but they are academic really until Sean and his family manage to gather themselves together following yet another blatant injustice and steal themselves for the battle ahead, which I know they will. But I also know they will do it with the same breathtaking amount of support they have always had. Why? Because they know it’s the right thing to do, as do all of you.
The integrity of the justice system wasn’t preserved today, it was made a laughing stock. In various rooms across Scotland, there are people with the power to give and take a mans freedom who know that the guilty party is walking around as free as a bird whilst they, to varying degrees, were party to keeping an innocent man in prison for a crime they know he didn’t commit. There is no integrity in that, no honor, and neither they nor the ‘system’ they seek to protect can be worthy of respect while it is so. They will also know however that the forensic evidence that prove it, the evidence they know exists and how powerful it is, WILL come back to haunt them.
My thoughts are with Sean and his family today, stay strong.
Please leave a message of support on his site to show that our resolve was only strengthened today, not weakened.
On Saturday 7th, going into Sunday the 8th August 2004, Sean Toal aged 19, was enjoying a party at his girlfriends home. During the night, three uninvited males arrived and when Sean answered a knock at the door he was instantly attacked. A fight ensued outside on the street as a result of which one of the three men, Paul McGilvray, was stabbed and died. On the 24th August 2005, Sean was sentenced to serve a minimum of 15 years having been convicted by a majority verdict the previous month.
Imagine a prosecution opening with the following –
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, this is a trial for murder. What the Crown suggests to you is that the deceased was angry at the fact his girlfriend had been sleeping around, so he and his two ‘cousins’ decided to go and teach the man she had been cheating with and his friends a lesson. At least two of them were armed and have admitted to us that they went to the locus looking for a fight. One has previous convictions for numerous assaults and drug charges, he armed himself with a screwdriver and his accomplice Jn armed himself with a buckfast bottle from the car they drove there in. They were uninvited to the house but went anyway and started a fight. The fight went horribly wrong and one of them died. The two defensive blows to the head from Sean Toal could not have been fatal, but in due course we will ask that you find him guilty of murder.”
Of course, that’s not how the case against Sean and his three co-defendants was led, but it is, as the evidence shows, what happened. However the difference between reality and the case presented isn’t the only hallmark of this case, it also highlights very effectively just how dangerous the Scottish section 14 interviews were for innocent people. (The questioning of suspects while denying them access to a solicitor for up to 6 hours)
Sean Toal is innocent.