Harry Gleeson to be pardoned 74 years after murder conviction

Josefina Maria Bentz

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Yesterday the Department for Justice announced that Harry Gleeson has been pardoned.

Minister for Justice and Equality, Francis Fitzgerald, announced that the Government will advice the President to exercise his right of pardon under article 13.6 of the Constitution in respect of Harry Gleeson’s conviction in 1941.

Harry Gleeson photo

Image Credit: Irish Innocence Project

On 21 November 1940, Harry Gleeson reported to the Gardaí at New Inn, Co. Tipperary, that he had seen the body of a woman lying in a field near where he lived. Within five months Gleeson was convicted of the murder of Mary McCartney and ultimately sentenced to death and executed in Mountjoy Prison on 23 April 1941.

Throughout the process of the conviction, Gleeson strongly denied the accusation. Many years after his execution there have been questions around the safety of the conviction.

The Justice for Harry Gleeson Group together with the Irish Innocence Project have been working to clear Harry Gleeson’s name and for him to be pardoned. Based on their submission, the Attorney General directed the case to be subject to final and authoritative review by barrister Shane Murphy SC.

In his assessment Murphy concluded there were a number of deficiencies in the conviction rendering it unsafe and, in his opinion, the conviction and execution was a result based on unconvincing circumstantial evidence.

The Government deeply regrets that a man was convicted and executed in circumstances now found to be unsafe. All that can be done now by way of remedy is to clear his name of the conviction, which this pardon will do, in the hope that this will be a proper tribute to his memory.

 Department for JusticeIrish Innocence Project LogoImage Credit: Irish Innocence Project

The Irish Innocence Project is a charity working to exonerate people who have been wrongfully convicted. It is part of the international Innocence Network.

The project is currently based in Griffith College Dublin. It has 21 student caseworkers and 7 supervising lawyers working on 25 cases where wrongful convictions are suspected. The Gleeson case is the projects first exoneration since its formation in 2009.

On 26 June 2015, the Irish Innocence Project is hosting the first International Conference on Wrongful Conviction, Human Rights and the Student Learning Experience at Griffith College. The following day there will be a Wrongful Conviction Film Festival.

Conference Picture

Image Credit: Irish Innocence Project

Below there is a video by the Irish Innocence Project, from their on-going crowd-funding campaign Be the Key: Set an Innocent Free, on the caseworker experience and the coming conference and film festival.

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Josefina Maria Bentz