Justice for John Keelan
In March 2008 I was sentenced to nine years imprisonment for attacking and robbing Lee-Anna Devlin aged 66 a retired solicitor and resident of Glasgow.
At the time of the incident June 2005 Ms. Devlin told the police, that she had been punched, hooded and tied-up by three intruders who then ransacked her home.
I was not one of the three intruders but the only person who has stood trial and been sentenced!
I have been fighting to clear my name for over five years now at present I am without legal representation and have been for two and a half years this is due to the nature of one of the grounds of my appeal, defective representation, and in particular the QC who is at the centre of it, he held a prominent position in the Faculty of Advocates.
Not only was what my defence team did a criminal act it was a deliberate and conscious effort to flaunt the rules of court. They conspired with each other to defeat the ends of justice then attempted to persuade me to pervert the course of justice and commit perjury, an questions that must be answered are how many times in the past have they done this, how many others have been wrongfully convicted either by not doing as they asked or by doing as they asked, the other side being how many have been wrongfully acquitted.
It seems no one is willing to answer these questions, aside from my appeal, I have raised complaints concerning the conduct and actions of my defence team with the Faculty of Advocates, the Law Society, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, the Police, the Glasgow Procurator Fiscal, the Crown Office, the Lord Advocate, the Justice Secretary for Scotland and my MP and MEP, none of whom have done anything about it. After numerous letters to each some replied others did not, those that did promised an investigation that was some months ago, at present I await the outcome.
In June 2005 I was present at, but not a willing participant in a housebreaking.
It was 8.30pm on a warm Saturday evening I was with two brothers and we were trying to score drugs. The dealer we went to was not in his flat he was at a party held by one of his neighbours in the their back garden. All three of us went round the lane at the back of the houses and one ofthe brothers went to the party to speak to the dealer; when he came back he told us that the dealer had nothing left and was not going back to the flat to get more. I had a bike with me and on hearing this the other brother jumped on it, he cycled round to the street and counted the houses and then did the same on the way back; the houses were one attached block the length of the street and a large number of windows at the back were open. When he got back he pointed to a window and said that is the dealers flat, he had as good as said he still had gear in the flat when he said he is not going back to get more.
The two brothers then decided to break in, I wanted nothing to do with it and said so; I tried to convince them not to do it as it was a dealer's house and we did not know who he was connected too, but they were having none of it. They started to get aggressive towards me and the more I said to leave it out the more aggressive they got, this turned to threats. At the time I felt that if I walked away they would turn on me so I let them believe that I was up for it but once they were in the flat I was off.
The window was ten feet or more from the ground so one brother had to give the other a boost, once he was in the other took a run and jumped up and grabbed his brothers lowered arm. They then indicated that I do the same I told them that I could not do it, I probably really couldn't do it as I have severe burn scarring across my shoulders and down the back of both arms and due to the tension of the scars I have difficulty in lifting both arms over my head simultaneously.
A cord that was used to tie the curtains back was lowered to me and one of them told me to grab it and they would pull me up. I grabbed the bottom of the cord and instantly let go again, realising that this had went too far I ran to my bike, just as I was getting on the bike I heard them both behind me and one of them said run someone is in the flat. When we got back to the street, one of them said it was the wrong flat, the brother who took my bike counted the flats wrong and they had broken into a neighbours; he went onto say that they had heard a door opening and then voices or the TV so they jumped out. Minutes later we parted company; I went home where I remained till the next day.
In May 2007 I was detained by the police for questioning in relation to a housebreaking that happened in 2005, but during questioning this turned from a normal housebreaking to a tie-up. I was told that my DNA had been recovered from several items at the crime scene and asked to explain how it got there. Having never been involved in a tie-up I could not explain it other than secondary transfer or someone was setting me up.
I am no stranger to crime, I have a record dating back to the early eighties, in 2004 I was released from a seven year sentence after serving two thirds so at the time of the offence that I was been questioned about I had been out on license for just over a year. Since my release I had kept out of trouble, the nearest thing to a housebreaking that I had any knowledge of was the carry on at the dealers flat, but that was a normal housebreaking not a tie-up, so as far as I was concerned it could not be that. On the strength of my DNA being at the crime scene I was charged with the offence. Off tape I was told that the complainer was a solicitor.
Next day at court I was refused bail not on the standard conditions such as previous convictions, seriousness ofthe crime or that I was out on license at the time, they objected to bail by telling the court the complainer was a solicitor. After I had been on remand for some time my solicitor got some information from the crown, this included a statement from the complainer saying that the crime had happened about 11.15pm and that there were two people involved and they spoke with Irish accents.
As for my DNA being found on several items the crown informed my solicitor that it was only one item, a length of cord. On hearing this I explained to my solicitor about the incident at the dealers flat, which also happened mid-2005, so to eliminate it, he checked a street map and it turned out both were on the same street.
I then made enquiries and found out that the brothers had went back to the dealers that night to score and being drug addicts not wanting to let an opportunity pass, they checked the flat they had broken into by mistake earlier and all was as they had left it so they broke back in. This time someone walked in on them and they tied them up, one of the items used was the cord that I had touched during the earlier break-in that had been dropped on the floor at the window. Tests were carried out by the defence on the cord regarding my DNA and the only place my DNA was found was on the bottom of the cord, the scientists agreed that the explanation I gave as to how it got there was the most likely. I was then asked by the solicitor to give a precognition (Scottish Law 'precognition' examination of witnesses and other parties before a trial) to an agent regarding my defence, this I did and what you have read concerning the first break in at the "dealers" is a very brief summary of that.
My defence was one of alibi and incrimination; there were five samples of unaccountable DNA found at the crime scene on the items used in the tying-up as well as fingerprints. The intruders were not wearing gloves when they entered the flat as they asked the complainer where they could find some. If I had, as the crown claimed, entered the flat I would have left fingerprints at the point of entry.
Fingerprints were found, however, while investigating my case the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) were told there are outstanding fingerprints and they are probably mine. At first it was thought by the SCCRC that the prints found at the scene were no good for comparison but after further checks they were told they are good for comparison and it was my prints that were not. The crown claim my prints were not taken correctly, that is ridiculous as fingerprints are taken by computer now and if not done right the computer tells the operator and they do them again till they get it right.
Even it is true and my prints were taken wrong, why not take them again correctly for comparison as the only evidence they had was my DNA on a movable object? As well as the other DNA, this is outstanding evidence of the third man the crown claimed I was.
In support of my alibi were my partner, my son, and my son's uncle. Being out on license I was living in temporary accommodation, my partner was in a female homeless unit and due to our housing predicament our son lived with his uncle during the week but at the week-end he lived with me. Also in support of my defence was the register at this homeless unit showing my partner stayed there that night, so both my partner and sons uncle could testify that I had care of my young son that night, this was also supported by social work records.
My defence team were also instructed to obtain the records for my mobile phone and to see if any CCTV images were still available for the route I had taken home that night at about 8:45 pm and for the block of flats were I lived. These would have shown my movements that night; that I did not leave the house again once I got home after the first break-in. They were also instructed to have me examined by a skin specialist to determine my ability to climb into the flat.
However at the time unbeknown to me my defence team were not acting upon my instructions, instead, I allege they had their own agenda. At the first meeting I had with the Queens Counsel who would defend me he told me that he had a reservation about my defence. He told me that in his experience when family or friends support an alibi juries tend to think "oh they would say that". He went on to say there was no proof that the flat had been broken into earlier that night so to avoid an unnecessary conflict he thought it best I did not give evidence about the first break-in, instead say in court all that I did and witnessed during the first break-in at 8.30pm really happened (during the second) at 11.15pm and to say I was there at that time.
In other words this QC asked me to perjure myself and forget about the first break-in and my defence and to say I was there at 11.15pm and instead of the brothers jumping back out (as they had done at 8.30pm) they remained in the flat and I ran away after they had entered it and lowered the cord down to me.
As well as asking me to commit perjury he was asking me to agree to being placed at the scene of the crime at the time of the crime when I have a supportable alibi. I told him that I was the proof of the first break-in and that the complainer may be able to support this as the brothers were spooked during the first one, maybe the complainer heard something and the brothers heard them going to investigate it when they heard the door open and the voices.
The party in the garden too supported the first break-in at 8.30pm, or at least me being there at that time, a party with loud music in a garden would not be going on at 11:15pm. The back window too being open at 8:30pm, how would I have known it was open at that time if I had not been there, also the fact that the room the brothers climbed into during the first break-in was not being used at 8:30pm, how would I have known this if I had not been there. I refused to be part of what he had suggested and instructed him as to what my defence was and that was what had been laid down in my precognition. At every meeting we had he would always ask me to go along with the defence he suggested saying he knows what he is doing and it was for the best, each time I refused, he would then tell me it was only a suggestion and then would talk about the defence I had instructed him on.
My defence team always left me with the impression that my defence as instructed was being prepared and would be presented in court. The evidence against me was my DNA on a movable object, nothing else. The complainer could not say as a fact how many intruders there were, but they did say they heard two male voices and both had Irish accents, plus one of them said there were three of them and the other two's names were Stevie and Willie. The explanation as to how my DNA got on the cord was supported by science unlike the crowns, the explanation they gave was, I must have been the third man the complainer thought might be there. This according to the crown was supported by the two names given by the Irishman who spoke. However, the little evidence the crown had was bolstered by my defence team, on the day of my trial I thought all was in place regarding the defence I had instructed them on, but it was not. They had ignored my instructions and instead decided to lead the defence that they had made up.
At the start ofthe trial when the clerk read my defence and alibi to the jury it was the alibi that the QC had tried to persuade me to agree to, the one he made up that said I was present in the back garden as the two brothers entered the flat (the second time) at 11:15 pm.
Against my instructions they had lodged with the court an untrue defence and in doing so had placed me at the scene of the crime at the time of the crime, they had incriminated me further in a crime I did not commit.
I was then left with the choice do I stand up and protest and show out to the jury or wait and speak with them in the cells, I waited. When I confronted them all they would say is they know what they are doing and it is for the best, I then threatened to sack them but they managed to persuade me against this telling me as the trial has started the judge wont allow it to be put off for months for me to get new counsel.
At the time I foolishly thought that all would turn out fine, I could not be convicted of a crime I did not commit. During his cross-examination my QC cross- examined the crown witnesses in relation to the defence he was leading the one he made up, and when I was giving evidence him and I were in conflict, so the impression the jury must have got was I was now changing my evidence and defence from what they were told at the start it would be.
Not only did I have the crown and my defence team against me I also had a biased judge, I had gotten into an argument with staff in the cells and on the day I was to give evidence four or five of them dragged me round to the cell known as the tank and set about me, I was left battered and dazed and with a head injury ten minutes later I was called to court to give evidence. My QC asked for an adjournment stating I was obviously in no fit state to give evidence, but the judge refused claiming it would back up the courts calendar and the cost. Yet the day before this same judge postponed that days proceedings by several hours for the complainer and their family. The complainer being a solicitor phoned the court and said they were stuck in traffic and asked for that days proceedings not to start till they got there, the judge obliged, now I could understand this if they had an official role to play in the proceedings but they did not they were only coming to watch the trial from the public benches.
With the exception of my DNA, all the evidence led by the crown was against the two Irishmen, the complainer could only speak of what they did; they could say nothing of what I am supposed to have done. In statements made by the complainer not long after the crime happened they spoke of two intruders, it was not until almost two years later, when they were told that a Scotsman's DNA had been recovered, that they conveniently said there impression was there might have been three intruders.
However, under cross-examination they agreed with the original statements they had given but added, it was impossible to say how many were involved. I was convicted with the use of the doctrine "Art & Part" (Scottish law for Joint Enterprise). The crown claimed, in the absence of proof of what I did, I was the third man, this according to the crown was supported by the defence saying I was present at the scene as the crime was being committed (11:15pm), my DNA on the cord and by one of the intruders saying there were three of them and the use of the two names Willie and Stevie and the complainers impression there were three.
At no time during the trial could anyone say what role I played in this. My own defence team assisted the crown by placing me at the scene of the crime as it unfolded, they assisted the crown in convicting me of a crime I did not commit.
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) investigated my case but refused to refer it to the court of appeal even after the solicitor involved admitted lodging with the court and leading an alibi / defence that he knew to be untrue. The senior Queens Counsel has since retired and has refused an invitation to explain his conduct.
The SCCRC agreed that my credibility was destroyed in court by my defence team's actions. They quoted several cases as their reasons for not referring my case to the appeal court. The SCCRC claim that my "DNA coupled with the complainers impression there were three and the use of the two names by one of them, taken at its highest and being most favourable to the crown, allowed the jury to infer I was the third man".
That is ridiculous. Why would you tell the people you are robbing how many of you there are and give them your accomplice's names? If I had committed this crime then according to the SCCRC, the jury can believe him when he said there are three of them even though he was obviously lying when he gave the names Willie and Stevie as my name is John.
One final point, I stood trial alone, the two brothers have never been arrested the last I heard they returned to the Republic of Ireland; I have also been informed by the police that the case is now closed. Considering I was convicted with the use of the doctrine 'Art and Part' and there is outstanding evidence against others then why is the case closed?
John Keelan (18965 ) HMP Addiwell, Station Road, Addiwell, EH55 8QA