Tuesday 21 October 2014

Breifne O'Brien fails in another bid to stop trial

Tim Healy

Published 05/06/2014 | 18:40

Briefne O’Brien
Briefne O’Brien

Businessman Breifne O'Brien has failed in another attempt to halt his trial for alleged offences including theft and deception. The trial is listed for June 18 next.

High Court president, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, ruled yesterday Mr O'Brien had raised no grounds entitling him to bring another judicial review challenge aimed at stopping his trial

Later yesterday, his lawyers told the Supreme Court he intended to appeal that refusal.

Mr O'Brien (51), Kilmore, The Gallan, Granitefield, Dubn Laoghaire, Co Dublin, has been sent forward for trial before a judge and jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

He is charged with 19 counts of theft involving sums totalling around €11m from five individuals between 2006 and 2008. Another 19 charges involve alleged deception of the same people.  A further seven charges of deception involving €1.9m relate one of those five people between 2003 and 2008. He denies all the charges.

Mr O'Brien previously lost an earlier judicial review challenge arguing he could not get a fair trial due to significant amounts of adverse publicity in the print and broadcast media.

In May 2013, Mr Justice Kearns directed the trial could proceed after a 12 month period. He had reservations about the trial proceeding "in the immediate future" due to the media coverage, the judge said.

Mr O'Brien appealed that decision to the Supreme Court. In dismissing that appeal earlier this month, the court also dismissed a cross-appeal by the DPP against the 12 month stay on his trial as a year had passed since the stay was imposed.

Yesterday, counsel for Mr O'Brien applied for leave to bring a fresh judicial review challenge on grounds arising from a recent Supreme Court ruling concerning the rights of detained persons to have solicitors present during interviews.

He alleges he was initially refused access to a solicitor in breach of his rights under the Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights and that had "profoundly" affected his ability to defend the charges against him.

Mr Justice Kearns said the issues raised by Mr O'Brien could be addressed by the trial judge at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court and he would refuse leave for judicial review.

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