Tuesday 17 October 2017

FitzPatrick lawyer calls for judge to be appointed now

Sonya McLean

LAWYERS for Sean FitzPatrick and two other former Anglo Irish Bank executives have asked the Circuit Criminal Court to assign a judge to take control of their forthcoming trial amid concerns of a "media frenzy" and the need to secure disclosure of all necessary documents.

The bank's former chairman Mr Fitzpatrick (65), of Greystones, Co Wicklow, William McAteer (62), of Rathgar, Dublin, and Pat Whelan (51), of Malahide, Co Dublin, are charged with 16 counts of allegedly providing unlawful financial assistance to individuals to buy shares in the bank.

Judge Martin Nolan said it was not the intention of the court to assign a specific trial judge now, but rather that the case would be dealt with in the usual manner with other pending trials before the sitting judge in court number 5.

But lawyers for the men and for the State stressed that they felt it was necessary for the smooth running of the case to appoint a judge now to deal with the large volume of material and issues that may arise leading up to the trial next January.

Brendan Grehan SC, for Mr Whelan, said: "I don't think this case can be progressed to trial without a judge taking charge of it now."

He said applications are going to arise, "apart from issues of relevance and privilege", in relation to disclosure.

ADVERSE

"We cannot have a fair trial take place where a media frenzy is whipping up a lynch mob mentality," he added.

He had earlier said there had been "ongoing matters of general adverse media coverage against a category of person that my client may fall into".

Michael O'Higgins SC, for Mr FitzPatrick, asked for a second hearing date to be set in September to deal with any issues that may arise between the defence and the State in relation to disclosure of evidence.

Mr Grehan acknowledged "the best endeavours of the prosecution" to disclose the relevant evidence.

Una Ni Raifeartaigh SC, prosecuting, said the DPP had sought to "prioritise certain things" which she said has been done now and the State is moving to the issue of obtaining material from "a large number of third parties".

"It is important that in the last six months the media would be mindful in matters that may ultimately lead to the postponement of the trial," she said.

The accused's legal teams and the prosecution stressed they were anxious for the trial to proceed as planned in January.

However, Mr O'Higgins pointed out that he had concerns about media reporting prejudicing the trial.

He said that given the recent coverage, his client "would be in a strong position" to request that the trial not take place until next summer, but said that was exactly what he did not want. Judge Nolan adjourned the case for mention to Tuesday.

Irish Independent

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