A NUMBER of cases before the Court of Criminal Appeal, including the case against sex-attacker Anthony Lyons, may have to be reheard because a High Court judge has fallen seriously ill.
Chief Justice Susan Denham this morning told the Court of Criminal Appeal that Mr Justice Michael Hanna is seriously ill and will probably require a lengthy period of convalescence following his illness.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr Justice Hanna and his family at this time,” Chief Justice Denham said.
The Chief Justice said that Mr Justice Hanna was a member of the Court of Criminal Appeal in a number of cases where judgement has been reserved and no final decision determined.
In these circumstances, she said the most appropriate resolution was to reconstitute the relevant courts of appeal and re-hear the appeals, adding that she and the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, would schedule these re-hearings as soon as possible.
Chief Justice Denham said that extra sittings of the Court of Criminal Appeal will be arranged, and as all the papers were available to the court, it was anticipated that the decisions could be arrived at promptly.
The cases that may have to be re-heard include that of former priest and serial child abuser Tony Walsh (59), formerly of North Circular Road, Dublin, who is appealing against separate sentences of 16 years and 15 months imposed on him for the rape and sexual abuse of young boys in the nineteen seventies and eighties.
The Court of Criminal Appeal reserved judgement in the case in July of last year and Chief Justice Denham said the presiding judge in the case wished to have it re-heard as soon as possible. She asked counsel on both sides to discuss the matter and indicate to the court registrar what dates they are free.
In November last year the Court of Criminal Appeal found that the six-month custodial sentence imposed on businessman Anthony Lyons (52) for a violent sexual assault was “unduly lenient” but reserved the reasons for its judgement and later reserved its decision on what sentence should be imposed in its place.
Ms Caroline Biggs SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, told Chief Justice Denham that although there was deemed to be an error in principle in the case, the State was awaiting the reasons for that decision as well as an indication of what the appropriate penalty should be.
She said she could not assist the court as to whether or not a full hearing will be required and asked for a short period to take instructions on an appropriate course of action.
Chief Justice Denham said the presiding judge in the case again wanted to hear the matter as soon as possible. She asked that counsel determine a suitable date and relay a view on how the case may proceed to the court registrar.
Other cases effected include that of a 52-year-old man appealing against a life sentence imposed on him in December 2011 for raping four of his daughters.
The case brought by Dublin criminal Brian Rattigan (32), who is seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, may also have to be re-heard. Rattigan is serving a life sentence in Portlaoise prison having been found guilty by a jury in December 2009 of stabbing 21-year-old Declan Gavin to death outside an Abrakebabra fast-food restaurant in Crumlin on August 25, 2001.
The appeal court was this morning able to fix February 14 for the re-hearing of the appeal against conviction brought by brothers Warren (39) and Jeffrey Dumbrell (33), who were jailed for life after being convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury of the murder of 33-year-old Christopher Cawley outside his home at Tyrone Place flats in Inchicore.
The case of Kevin McCardle (31), who caused the deaths of three people in a head-on collision after driving on the wrong side of the road having drank almost three-and-a-half times the legal alcohol limit, will not have to be reheard as judgement has been returned and only the sentencing portion of the case has been adjourned.
In September last year the appeal court found that the sentence of four years with one suspended imposed on McArdle, of Longfield, Carrickmacross, at Monaghan Circuit Criminal Court in October 2011 for dangerous driving causing death was “unduly lenient”.