Sunday 24 September 2017

'Half naked' John Dundon arrives at court in shorts

John Dundon: trial
John Dundon: trial
Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

A prisoner on hunger strike as he awaits trial over the murder of rugby player Shane Geoghegan was brought to court today half naked in a wheelchair.

John Dundon was pushed in to the non-jury Special Criminal Court wearing only a pair of shorts, where he was due to stand trial for the murder of the Garryowen player in 2008.

The 29-year-old from Hyde Road, Limerick, was taken from the high security Portlaoise prison to hospital yesterday after his condition deteriorated.

The court heard he was discharged last night and returned to a different cell and refused to wear prison issued clothing this morning.

Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding in the three judge court, asked if anybody had anything to say about the defendant's "state of dress or undress" when he arrived in the dark coloured knee length shorts.

"If he is not dressed appropriately in court he will be absent from the court," the judge added after the explanation.

Dundon told prison authorities last week that he had been refusing food and water.

Last Friday he failed to have his trial for the murder of Mr Geoghegan adjourned.

He had gone to the High Court to challenge the Special Criminal Court ruling that the case should not be delayed until 2014.

His legal team will lodge an application with the Supreme Court on Thursday.

Dundon claims the adjournment should have been granted because defence lawyers were given insufficient time to go through evidence, including hours of CCTV footage.

Mr Geoghegan was murdered outside his home at Clonmore, Kilteragh, Dooradoyle, Limerick, on November 9 2008.

He had been watching an Ireland rugby international with friends and was shot several times as he returned home.

His family members and partner Jenna Barry are in court for the hearing.

A group of gardai and prison officers stood around Dundon and tried to block him from view as he sat in the wheelchair throughout the hearing, holding his hands in a steeple position under his chin.

A paramedic also sat in the court.

Defence barrister Martin O'Rourke explained his client's absence of clothing and the lack of a medial report, as Dundon had not been available to give his consent for the prison doctor to release it.

He also argued that the three judges listed to hear the case - Judge Butler, Alison Lindsay and Flann Brennan - should discharge themselves from the case and appoint a new bench.

He claims the prosecution's case centres on a key witness, April Collins, who the judges previously deemed to be credible when they convicted Dundon of threatening to kill her.

Mr O'Rourke said the credibility of a witness is largely subjective, unlike forensic evidence.

Judge Butler said the accused's legal team had to be given the opportunity to at least get to the door of the Supreme Court, a development he revealed he only read about in the press.

The judge also criticised the barrister for flagging concerns over the judges so late in the day, but stated they would consider the request.

The trial was adjourned until Friday morning, pending an appeal to the Supreme Court on Thursday.

Tom O'Connell, senior counsel for the Director of Prosecutions, had objected to any further adjournment.

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