Commission refers the 1977 conviction of James Goodall to the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the conviction of James Goodall to the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal.

Mr Goodall was convicted at Belfast City Commission in November 1977 for placing a bomb which caused an explosion in the Academy Shirt Factory on Exchange Street, Belfast.

Mr Goodall was 24 years old at the time of the trial but there was information before the court that should have meant he was considered as vulnerable. Mr Goodall pleaded not guilty, claiming that he was elsewhere at the material times, and disputing that he had signed a statement presented by the police as his. He was convicted and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment.

Mr Goodall tried to appeal his conviction but the appeal was dismissed in March 1978. He applied to the CCRC in September 2009 .

The Commission has conducted a detailed review of Mr Goodall’s case, which has included obtaining expert medical opinion and expert scientific analysis of original documents relating to the case. The review has also considered the relevance of the earlier Commission referrals and the Court’s subsequent decisions in the cases Brown and others, and particularly in the case of McCaul (see footnote 1).

The Commission has decided to refer Mr Goodall’s conviction to the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal because it considers there is a real possibility that the Court will now quash his conviction.

The referral is based on new evidence relating to Mr Goodall’s vulnerability at the time which was such that he should have been (but was not) interviewed with an appropriate adult present and which means that the Court may now conclude his admissions and written confession are unreliable.

Mr Goodall is represented by Madden and Finucane Solicitors, 88 Castle Street, Belfast BT1 1HE.

The Commission’s reviews in Mr Goodall’s application, and a number of other unconnected applications arising from similar circumstances, were deferred pending the Court’s decision in the cases of R v Brown, Wright, McDonald and McCaul [2012] which were referred for appeal by the Commission in 2009. The Court‘s decision in respect of those referrals was delivered on 23 May 2012. Mr Goodall’s application was reviewed and referred in the light of this decision. The judgment in the R v Brown, Wright, McDonald and McCaul case can be seen at:

This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 0121 232 0906 or e-mail

Notes for editors

1. The Criminal Cases Review Commission is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for reviewing suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is based in Birmingham and is funded by the Ministry of Justice.

2. There are currently 12 Commissioners who bring to the Commission considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice.

3. The Commission usually receives around 1,500 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Typically, around 3.5%, or one in 29, of all applications are referred to the appeal courts.

4. The Commission considers whether, as a result of new evidence or argument, there is a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld were a reference to be made. New evidence or argument is argument or evidence which has not been raised during the trial or on appeal. Applicants should usually have appealed first. A case can be referred in the absence of new evidence or argument or an earlier appeal only if there are “exceptional circumstances”.

5. If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.