Monday 25 September 2017

Date set for Graham Dwyer High Court action over use of mobile phone records in trial

Graham Dwyer Picture: Collins
Graham Dwyer Picture: Collins

Aodhan O'Faolain

A High Court action brought by convicted murderer Graham Dwyer against the Garda Commissioner and State over the use of mobile phone records in his trial will be heard in February 2018.

Dwyer was charged in October 2013 with the murder of Elaine O’Hara and was convicted by a jury following a lengthy trial at the Central Criminal Court in March 2015.

In his High Court proceedings commenced in 2015 Dwyer claims certain provisions of the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011 breach his rights to privacy under the Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

The Directive underlying the 2011 Act was struck down by the European Court of Justice in 2015.

He claims that the ECJ ruling means that Irish legislation implementing the directive was illegal and that data collected on his phone was also therefore invalid.

Many requests for disclosure of mobile phone records were made under the relevant provisions of the 2011 Act by gardai investigating Ms O’Hara's murder and were granted by the relevant service providers. Phone data was also admitted into evidence during the trial.

During Dwyer’s trial, his lawyers argued the mobile phone data was inadmissible as evidence but those arguments were rejected by the trial judge.

The High Court proceedings are against the Garda Commissioner, Director of Public prosecutions, Ministers for Justice and Communications, Ireland and the Attorney General.

The case was briefly mentioned before the Chancery Court on Thursday morning, when lawyers for Dwyer and the state applied for a hearing date.

The hearing of the action, which is expected to take 6 to 8 days, was fixed for February 20th next.

In his action, Cork born Dwyer with an address in Foxrock in South Co Dublin seeks, if appropriate, damages and, if necessary, a reference of issues to the European Court of Justice.

Following his conviction Dwyer for the murder of Ms O'Hara in August 2012 the married architect was jailed for life and his appeal against conviction has yet to be heard.

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