THE TRIALThe first trial started on 14th November 1994 but was stopped the following day when it transpired that two jury members knew the widow of the DoT Inspector Simon Bruno, and another member thought he knew her. Mr Justice Sachs imposed a press ban on why the first trial was aborted.
In his summing-up, Sachs was forced to say about one of the officers, DS Steve Horrocks, “You may be less than happy with DS Horrocks’ explanation of events, but you will have to resolve all that”. At no time did he mention that new statements were made to cover the discrepancy and so the jury had no knowledge of it.
Towards the end of the trial, Sachs allowed a witness statement to be read to the court. The jury was not present when the legal arguments about this statement were discussed in the court. Thomas was told by his ‘defence’ team that the judge would not permit the statement to be read. The person who made the statement was mentally challenged; he could not tell the time and did not know his own address or phone number. His own GP said that he was fit to attend court and that he was prone to lies and exaggeration. However, the police gave this witness £50 to get a note from a psychiatrist who said that the witness was not fit to attend. The psychiatrist was then called to the court and stated that he was able to have a normal conversation with this witness. This beggars belief.
On Thursday 1st December 1994, Mr Peter Openshaw QC summed up for the prosecution and Mr Richard Ferguson QC for the defence. Mr Justice Sachs, for whatever reason, announced that he would not sum up until the following Monday. He gave the jury leave to return home and told them to return to court on the Monday morning with an overnight bag.
That Thursday evening Thomas was
returned to HM Prison Manchester (Strangeways). He was placed in the segregation
unit. He was not given a reason for
this. He spent the whole weekend in
the segregation unit. It later
transpired that Thomas was set up by the two Liverpool drug barons, John Haase and Paul Bennett, as the man responsible for a handgun that had been smuggled into the prison (see post trial They did this with the help of their Customs handler, Paul Cook and their solicitor, Tony Nelson. Haase and Bennett were convicted on 19th November 2008 of conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice in relation to this and other illegal activities.
When he returned to court on the Monday
morning, he had an armed police escort including snipers on the roofs of buildings and motorbike outriders who stopped the traffic to allow the
escort to pass through to the court.
At no time has Thomas ever been charged in relation to this gun and at
no time was he ever told that he was named as the person responsible. This only came to light later on (see post trial
When he returned to court on the Monday morning, he had an armed police escort including snipers on the roofs of buildings and motorbike outriders who stopped the traffic to allow the escort to pass through to the court. At no time has Thomas ever been charged in relation to this gun and at no time was he ever told that he was named as the person responsible. This only came to light later on (see post trial).
This was a deliberate attempt to destroy the integrity of the trial and to adversely influence the jury. We know now that it was a tactic employed by the prosecution to interfere in other people’s trials also around that time. Remember, too, that this jury did not know the innocent reason for the discharge of the first jury. Thomas was presented as an extremely dangerous individual and any juror walking to the court on the Monday morning could quite easily have seen him as he was taken to court in a van with large windows from which he was clearly visible. Until the gun turned up, Thomas was brought to court in an ordinary prison van with blacked out windows with no escort. (see footage of armed police escort to contrast how Thomas was taken to and from court). This should be viewed in conjunction with Sir Peter Openshaw’s statement which blithely states that this increase in security did not happen. Four police officers who were involved in the murder investigation also stated that there was no increase in security when asked for their recollections. It is accepted that one person may have a flawed recollection but it is beyond credibility that five people should conveniently share inaccurate memories. Furthermore, and in light of his vast experience in the legal profession, it would be obvious to Sir Peter Openshaw that a man on trial for a double murder and accused of smuggling a firearm into a prison would be very dangerous indeed, thereby necessitating a massive increase in security. Nevertheless they have all, so far with impunity, made false statements.
As part of the appeal process, and in light of the fact that the prosecution was denying there had ever been an armed escort, the defence team repeatedly requested sight of the deployment records of the armed response units. We were denied this request and told that any records had been destroyed. Fortunately Thomas’s family were able to obtain historical TV footage to prove that Sir Peter Openshaw’s recollection was totally inaccurate. Without this footage, Sir Peter Openshaw’s statement would have been accepted as truth. His junior at the time of the trial, Anthony Russell, now the Recorder of Preston, refused to make a statement in support of Sir Peter Openshaw’s statement. However he told the prosecution for the appeal that there was no increase in security. He clearly would not be put to proof.
There were no reporting restrictions concerning the firearm and ammunition during the trial. The gun incident was covered by the press and local and national TV and radio. The jury would have had access to this press coverage over the weekend.
Following Justice Sachs’ summing-up on Monday 5th December 1994, the jury began their deliberations and in the evening retired to a hotel at Manchester Airport. They deliberated all day Tuesday before being sent to yet another hotel for their second night. This has only come to light recently and the name of this hotel has not been disclosed. This was another blatant attempt to influence the deliberations of the jury. On Wednesday 7th December 1994, the jury returned a verdict of guilty by a majority of 10-2.
During the preparation for the leave to appeal hearing, the prosecution stated that there were no special arrangements for the jury. However, at the last Haase and Bennett trial in November 2008, it was stated in court that Thomas Bourke DID have a protected jury.