Maze Prison escape convictions of six men quashed by Court of Appeal

Six men will have convictions for escaping from a Northern Ireland prison in 1974 quashed, following a Court of Appeal ruling.

Internees Fra McCann, Patrick Holden, Anthony Hughes, James Joseph Walsh, Patrick Fitzsimmons and Francis Johnston were convicted in 1975 of escaping from the Maze Prison the previous year.

The Court of Appeal ruled on Monday that the former internees will have their convictions quashed, with the court determining the men were not lawfully detained at the time of the escape.

The challenge was based on a similar case taken successfully by former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, which saw the UK Supreme Court in 2020 rule that his convictions for escaping from the Maze Prison could be quashed because his detention was unlawful.

Padraig O Muirigh, solicitor for the men, had said ahead of the decision that “the matters of fact and law which determined the Adams case in the appellants favor were in large measure replicated in these cases”.

The six men were convicted in September 1975, after escaping from the Maze Prison in November 1974.

A republican prisoner, Hugh Gerard Coney, was shot dead during the escape from the Long Kesh internment camp.

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