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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 11:49 GMT
Murder trial collapses over bugging
Bugging device
Police listened to private conversations with solicitors
Lincolnshire police are considering their next move after a judge released five men facing murder charges, stating officers had used illegal bugging techniques.

The men walked free on Tuesday after Nottingham Crown Court heard officers installed hidden microphones in exercise yards outside two police station cells.

Prisoners and their solicitors, who were not allowed to smoke in interview rooms, went out into the yards and their privileged conversations were recorded.

The police were investigating the killing of 23-year-old Mark Corley from Grantham, Lincolnshire, whose remains were found on remote farmland near Darlington, Co Durham in December 2000.

'Brutal shooting'

He had been shot in the head.

Mr Corley was last seen on 7 July some five months before the gruesome discovery.

Robert Sutherland, 36, of Birnie Hill Road, Bathgate, West Lothian, pleaded not guilty to murder.

He also denied conspiracy to murder together with four men from the Grantham area, John Smith, 27, Gary Self, 36, Danny Gray, 21, and John Toseland, 59.

They were due to go on trial at Nottingham Crown Court two weeks ago but Mr Justice Newman heard lengthy legal submissions.

The judge said the facts were that a young man had been "executed by a brutal shooting".

Law 'breached'

The court heard the police carried out covert surveillance at police stations in Grantham and Sleaford, Lincolnshire.

Mr Justice Newman said: "Flagrant breaches of the law occurred.

We are disappointed at the outcome of the case, having spent many months of intense investigation

Assistant Chief Constable John Stoddard
"In my judgment the consequence of the police having deliberately obtained confidential information in the course of the inquiry has led to a position where they have compromised the trial process."

The judge discharged the five defendants.

There was angry shouting from people in the public seats.

Lincolnshire police Assistant Chief Constable John Stoddard said later: "We are disappointed at the outcome of the case, having spent many months of intense investigation.

"Throughout this time we have maintained close contact with the victim's family.

"We now need to fully consider the implications of the judge's comments.

"When we receive a full transcript on the judge's comments we will then be able to decide on an appropriate course of action."

The BBC's Jane Warr
"Mr Justice Newman said there had been flagrant breaches of the law"
Chris Milligan, solicitor for one of the men
"Police recorded privileged or confidential material"

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