Tuesday 26 September 2017

Illiterate Dundon says he'll represent himself in trial

Brian Kavanagh

THE trial of a man accused of murdering Garryowen rugby player Shane Geoghegan has been delayed after he was rushed to hospital with a head injury.

John Dundon suffered the injury after fainting in his cell, the non-jury Special Criminal Court has heard.

It was one of a series of dramatic developments in the case.

Earlier, wheelchair-bound Dundon, who has been on hunger strike, sacked his legal team. Dundon told the court he was illiterate after Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns informed him he would now have to represent himself.

A gaunt Dundon appeared yesterday morning for arraignment, which heard the accused man had dismissed his legal representatives last week.

Later, in the afternoon, Dundon did not appear for the scheduled opening of the murder trial, with evidence heard that he had cut his head after fainting in his cell and had been brought to hospital.

Assistant chief officer Peter Kelly told Mr Tom O'Connell, prosecuting, that at lunch time the call system was activated in the cell where John Dundon and another man, Nathan Killeen (23), were being held.

The prison officer said Mr Killeen informed him Dundon had fainted and cut his head.

Mr Kelly said that when he entered the cell, he saw Dundon lying on the floor with a small cut on his head.

Mr Kelly said that Dundon was assessed by paramedics from Dublin Fire Brigade and it was proposed to take him to hospital for further medical checks.

He told Mr O'Connell that there was no CCTV footage of the cell but there was coverage of an adjacent corridor. Mr Kelly confirmed that no person other than Mr Killeen had access to the cell at lunch time.

Prosecution counsel told the court that he proposed to call medical evidence this morning that may assist in assessing what had occurred and whether the accused man had sought to frustrate the criminal process and harm himself.

Mr Justice Kearns said the non-jury court would not make any assessment until the medical evidence was heard. He said the trial would be adjourned until the morning when medical evidence would be heard.

Earlier, barrister Martin O'Rourke told the court that Dundon had informed Madden & Finucane solicitors he was withdrawing his instructions from them and wished to "conduct proceedings" on his own behalf.

Asked by Mr Justice Kearns if he could confirm the accuracy of what was said, Dundon replied: "Yeah."

Mr Justice Kearns told Dundon's legal representatives that they were free to go.

However, after the murder charge was read to him, Dundon said: "I plead not guilty but it's a different legal team I am looking for."

Mr Justice Kearns told Dundon he had confirmed that he wished to withdraw his instructions, did not wish to engage a new legal team and wished to defend himself.

Told by Mr Justice Kearns that he had been asked only "a few moments ago" to confirm this, Dundon replied: "I thought you meant a new legal team." The accused man added that he could not read or write.

"You have elected to do the case yourself and you will do the case yourself," Mr Justice Kearns said. He told the accused man that "every possible assistance" would be granted to him.

When Mr Justice Kearns said the trial would start at 2pm, Dundon told the court: "I don't know nothing about the law, I haven't a clue, I thought I had a separate legal team."

"You have sacked your legal team and confirmed that you want to represent yourself," Mr Justice Kearns replied.

John Dundon, with an address at Hyde Road, Limerick, is standing trial for the murder of Mr Geoghegan at Clonmore, Kilteragh, Dooradoyle, Limerick, on November 9, 2008.

Irish Independent

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