Enlarged jury sworn in as trial of former Anglo bosses to begin
A 15-strong jury – the first of its kind in Ireland – has been sworn in for the trial of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick and former executives Pat Whelan and William McAteer.
It is the first time an enlarged jury of 15 has been used, as provided for by an amendment last year to the 1976 Juries Act.
The amendment allows for enlarged juries to be selected for lengthy trials.
Before they were called, potential jurors were told they could not serve if they worked – or had previously worked – in any bank including Anglo.
Judge Martin Nolan also said that anyone who had expressed "strong public views" on Anglo Irish Bank or anyone who had owned shares in any bank were prohibited from serving.
The jury of eight men and seven women was sworn in over the course of two hours at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday.
Over a third of the 350 people who attended for jury service, 131 people, were excused from serving. The Court Service had sent out 1,500 summons.
The trial is due to begin in evidence next Wednesday at 11am.
Mr FitzPatrick (64), of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow; Mr McAteer (62), of Auburn Villas, Rathgar, Dublin; and Mr Whelan (50), of Coast Road, Malahide, Dublin have pleaded not guilty to 16 charges each of unlawfully providing financial assistance to individuals for the purpose of buying shares in Anglo Irish Bank in 2008. Each charge relates to a specific person who allegedly received financial assistance between July 10 and July 17, 2008.
The 16 people named in the charges are Patricia Quinn; Sean Quinn Junior; Collete Marie Quinn; Aoife Quinn; Brenda Quinn; Ciara Quinn; Paddy McKillen; Seamus Ross; Brian O'Farrell; John McCabe; Gerard Maguire; Patrick Kearney; Gerard Conlon; Gerard Gannon; Sean Reilly and Joseph O'Reilly.
The charges relating to Patricia Quinn are alleged to have occurred between July 10 and July 30, 2008.
Mr Whelan has pleaded not guilty to seven additional charges of being privy to fraudulently altered loan facility letters sent to seven of the borrowers relating to the purchase of shares of Anglo. These alleged offences occurred in October 2008.
All three men were dressed in suits as they sat in the dock during the selection procedure.
A list of expected witnesses was read out to the panel. This included Sean Quinn Senior and other members of the Quinn family, as well as the 10 other borrowers mentioned in the charges.
Other expected witnesses include former Anglo employees, former and current Central Bank employees and 42 gardai.
Judge Nolan told the jurors that the trial would not take more than four months and that they must be available until May 31.
The judge told the jury panel that it was unrealistic to expect them not to have heard of Anglo but said anyone who had expressed strong views in public should not sit on the jury.
He said this included views expressed on the internet, such as Facebook.
The judge said it would be embarrassing for the jurors if it emerged during the trial that they had expressed views on Anglo on such "permanent forums".
When the jury was empanelled, Judge Nolan issued it a final warning, saying that jurors should not conduct their own investigations into the case or even read up on it. He said he would regard such activity as a breach of the jurors' oaths.
Around 150 jurors were called to take the oath. The judge excused 131 of these, who said they would have issues serving on the jury. The defence teams objected to 17 jurors and the prosecution objected to two.