In an attempt to establish his alibi Robert McGladdery as suspect agreed to walk his alleged route home in the company of a policeman Head Constable Farrelly.
They went to the Orange Hall to interview the caretaker. McGladdery tried to put words in the latter’s mouth to the effect that he (McGladdery) had not left the dance until ten to two. ‘Well, earlier than that .. about twenty to two’, said Mr Wilson. The significance was two-fold: if he began walking then, he could not have seen Pearl climb into the car which gave her a lift home AND he’d have had time, even to walk to Damolly crossroads before Pearl‘s estimated arrival time there at about 2.20 am. But he didn’t walk; he cycled.
He met no one as he walked home, he alleged and no one could vouch for his story. He did allege that near the Scriptural Hall he looked behind and saw a young couple following on foot about 50 yards away.
In parallel testimony two Special Constables gave evidence to the contrary.
Special Constable William Roger Quinn stationed at the Scriptural Hall Downshire Road Newry (remember that the IRA campaign of 1956-1962 was still in force) said he left the dance in the Orange Hall at 1.35 am with Miss Bessie Henning and he accompanied her on foot to her home which was about 400 yards away on the same side of the road. He did not see anyone walking in front or behind them and could not remember any traffic passing. He had a faint recollection of a bicycle about thirty yards in front of them going in the same direction, when they were between McCulloughs and the Scriptural Hall. He thought it was a man on the bicycle but could not remember if it had any lights.
He saw Special Constable Robinson standing at the gateway of the Scriptural Hall. They arrived at Miss Henning’s house at about 1.50 am. There they waited for her sister who came along about 2.00 am. He stayed there until about 2.20 am and during that time Robert McGladdery did not pass by. At about 2.20 a bicycle passed him but he did not know the person riding it.
Special Constable Robinson testified that he was on duty at the entrance to the Scriptural Hall (used them as a barracks) and he moved towards the gates when he heard footsteps. He saw Constable Quinn and Miss Henning pass and later saw Miss Adeline Henning pass in the same direction. He remained at the gate until about 1.55 am and did not see anyone else either walking or cycling past.
McGladdery alleged to Head Constable Farrelly that he spotted a man, and a woman ‘in a long red coat’ about 50 yards behind him when he reached Church Avenue. He thought they were coming from the dance. McGladdery insisted he saw no one when they reached the Scriptural Hall (where Special Constable Robinson was on duty).
Another police witness, Detective Constable Gerard Thom of Newry just happened to call by the dance at the Orange Hall on the night in question. At 1.50 am he stood at the door leading to the dance floor. McGladdery and Will Copeland came over to him after he had been there five minutes. Both spoke to him. McGladdery was wearing a light-blue-coloured suit and a white shirt with red spots and a red-coloured tie. Witness did not see any marks on McGladdery’s face. After about ten minutes witness left the dance hall.
At his trial early in 1962 McGladdery desperately tried to shift the blame to his friend Will Copeland claiming that he had loaned him his blue suit.
Copeland, it emerged from evidence and on the trial’s completion, was entirely innocent of any involvement in this heinous crime.
…………… more to follow …….