When Walter and Thomas Bourke were arrested on 25th November 1993, Thomas had a set of keys which were put into his property. Walter had no keys.
At 18.10 on 25th November 1993, DS Steve Horrocks planted a set of keys in Walter Bourke’s property. This was entered in the Custody Log.
Thomas’s keys were removed from his property from 18.26-18.29 on 25th November 1993.
At 18.30, the keys Horrocks had planted in Walter’s property were removed by DS Gary Smith and taken to DS Bellini.
At 18.44, Officer Bellini photographed this bunch of keys which included a key, which opened the lock on the recovered bag of guns. Therefore these keys could not have been Thomas’s.
Before the trial, when the photographs of the padlock and key were disclosed, Thomas asked his solicitor, Paul Rextrew to obtain a forensic report as the padlock looked brand new and the key very old. Rextrew did not commission this report and during the trial, a locksmith was brought in with a view to giving evidence for the defence. However Thomas's QC Mr Richard Ferguson, again, said that he could better explain the situation surrounding the keys. See incompetence .
Bellini’s evidence in court caused the prosecuting counsel, Mr Peter Openshaw QC, some consternation. As a result the trial was stopped but the jury were never made aware of the reason for this.
The police involved with the keys were then allowed to make new statements over the weekend to try to cover-up what they had done. Mr Ferguson was not allowed to make clear to the jury that these were new statements and the jury never knew that there was a serious discrepancy in the evidence concerning the keys.
In court, Mr Justice Sachs allowed DC Gary Smith to say that he did not see Bellini writing anything down and Bellini could not swear as to the exact times. However, Smith had to say that it took three minutes to go to the custody area, find the key, run upstairs, have it photographed, run back downstairs and return the rest of the keys to Tom’s property and retain the Lyvia key which opened the lock to the bag.
Smith was quite sure about the timing and that all this was done in that three minute period.
Thomas’s custody record clearly shows that this key could not have and did not come out of his property.
At the leave to appeal hearing on 18th October 2007, Lord Justice Moses, in his judgement stated, “There was further evidence about the bag in which the shotgun and other weapons were placed, namely that it had been closed with a padlock which the police said could be opened by a key found on the applicant's keyring, although there was substantial dispute at the trial as to whether that was merely a plant by the police since there was at least not wholly satisfactory evidence of continuity about the key on that keyring”.