Saturday 20 December 2014

Former nun falsely convicted of rape in state payout talks

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

Published 24/12/2013 | 02:30

Nora Wall
Nora Wall had her case declared a miscarriage of justice

THE Government is in "active" compensation negotiations with a former nun wrongfully convicted of the rape of a 12-year-old girl.

The Irish Independent has learned that Nora Wall, who had her rape conviction declared a miscarriage of justice by the Court of Criminal Appeal in 2005, is seeking court orders compelling the State to provide her with documents relating to her prosecution.

Four years ago, Ms Wall, a former Sisters of Mercy nun known as Sr Dominic, launched a High Court action challenging what she claimed was the refusal of the State to make a decision on her compensation claim.

The case intensified in recent months when Ms Wall (65) sought details of the circumstances surrounding her prosecution and negotiations are now at an advanced stage.

"The case is still active and negotiations are currently under way," said a spokesperson for Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

"In the circumstances it would not be appropriate to make any comment."

Ms Wall was convicted of rape at the Central Criminal Court in June 1999 and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

She was the first woman in the State to be found guilty of rape, but only served four days of her life sentence as her conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal six weeks later.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions agreed to a retrial when it became apparent that there had been non-disclosure of evidence in relation to one witness.

But within months, the DPP said that he would not be pursuing the retrial, instead supporting Ms Wall's application to the Court of Appeal for a declaration of miscarriage of justice.

It emerged that one of the complainants had a history of making false complaints of assault and a key witness had been declared unreliable prior to the trial and should never have appeared in court.

CHALLENGE

In 2005, the Court of Criminal Appeal declared a miscarriage of justice after hearing a "forensic debacle" had led to her conviction.

The DPP said that had he been aware of significant information which had come to light, the prosecution against Ms Wall and a now deceased homeless man, Paul McCabe, for the alleged rape of the girl would never have been brought.

In 2009, Ms Wall was given leave by the High Court to bring a judicial review challenge to the alleged refusal by the Justice Minister to make a decision on her application for compensation.

Irish Independent

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