Sunday 24 September 2017

DPP fails in bid to get judge off case

MARTIN CONMEY – APOLOGY

This article was originally published by us with a headline which incorrectly called into question the innocence of Martin Conmey in relation to the death of Una Lynskey. Mr Conmey’s conviction for the manslaughter of Una Lynskey was overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeal. Mr Conmey’s application to have the original trial declared a miscarriage of justice is currently pending before the Court of Criminal Appeal. We wish to unreservedly apologise to Mr Conmey for mistakenly calling into question his innocence. We accept that his acquittal was entirely justified and that he has been the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

THE DPP has failed to get a top judge to exclude himself from hearing a man's miscarriage of justice case.

The case concerned a quashed conviction for manslaughter of a young woman 40 years ago.

In an unusual application, the DPP had asked the Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) for Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman to excuse himself from further hearing the case of Martin Conmey.

Mr Conmey's conviction for the manslaughter of 19-year-old Una Lynskey was overturned two years ago. He now wants a declaration of a miscarriage of justice.

Mr Conmey, who completed a three-year sentence for manslaughter years before he won his appeal, was convicted on what the CCA described as "entirely circumstantial" evidence.

The CCA quashed the conviction on grounds including that important witness statements, which Mr Conmey argued proved his innocence, were not disclosed to the defence.

Mr Conmey (61), Porterstown Lane, Ratoath, Co Meath, has always maintained he was not responsible for the death of Ms Lynskey who vanished while returning home from work to her family home at Porterstown Lane in October 1971.

Miscarriage

In November 2010, Mr Justice Hardiman was part of the CCA which overturned Mr Conmey's conviction and the DPP had not objected to his being on that court.

The DPP later objected to Judge Hardiman, a member of the Supreme Court, from hearing Mr Conmey's applications for a declaration of a miscarriage of justice and for the costs of his successful appeal.

The DPP, represented by Brenda Grehan SC and Pauline Walley SC, argued "objective bias" on Mr Justice Hardiman's part arising from his being offered a brief in for Mr Conmey's appeal.

The judge did not take up that brief because he was appointed to the Supreme Court just months later. He said he had no recollection of being offered it.

Objective bias was also argued on grounds he was a member of the three-judge CCA that overturned Mr Conmey's conviction.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Hardiman was presiding at a sitting of the three-judge CCA which dismissed DPP's application for him (Hardiman) to step aside or "recuse" himself from the pending miscarriage of justice case.

Mr Justice Hardiman said he offered, before the appeal was heard, to step aside from hearing the case if either side wished, despite his own view there was no legal reason for him to step aside.

When he made that offer, neither side expressed such a preference.

Irish Independent

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