Friday 22 September 2017

Jobstown trial jury resume deliberations after being recharged

Deputy Paul Murphy has denied falsely imprisoning former Tanáiste Deputy Joan Burton. Photo: Collins Courts
Deputy Paul Murphy has denied falsely imprisoning former Tanáiste Deputy Joan Burton. Photo: Collins Courts

Andrew Phelan

THE jury in the Jobstown false imprisonment trial has resumed deliberations on a verdict after being re-charged by the presiding judge.

Judge Melanie Greally told the seven men and four women of the jury today there were "very important" issues she had to revisit before they continue deliberating.

Among the 18 points she advised them on was a "third" way out former Tanaiste Joan Burton could have used to leave the water charges protest at which she was allegedly imprisoned.

Judge Greally was re-directing the jury following legal submissions that were heard throughout yesterday in the trial of Paul Murphy TD and five other men accused of falsely imprisoning Ms Burton at an anti-water charges protest in 2014.

Mr Murphy (34), a Solidarity TD, along with south Dublin councillors Michael Murphy (53) and Kieran Mahon (39) and three other men - Michael Banks (46), Frank Donaghy (71) and Scott Masterson (34) - all deny falsely imprisoning Ms Burton and her advisor Karen O’Connell at Fortunestown Road, Jobstown in Tallaght, Dublin on November 15, 2014.

The jury retired again at 12.43 today, having already spent 50 minutes in deliberations at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Judge Greally had delivered her charge to the jury on Monday, which directed them on legal issues and summarised the evidence.

When the jury returned this morning, the judge said there had been “quite extensive legal argument” yesterday.

“Arising from the exchanges I have had with counsel, there are some matters I have to revisit concerning the charge I gave you,” she told the jurors.

Judge Greally first said the jury should not draw any inference from the fact that none of the accused gave evidence.

She re-directed them on aspects of Paul Murphy’s defence - that he maintained he was not responsible for the restraint but took positive steps to end it.

She told them Michael Murphy’s defence had raised a similar point, arguing that he too was a promoter of peaceful behaviour and was supportive of Ms Burton’s egress from Fortunestown Road.

The defence argued that it was policing that brought about the restraint, including “bad decisions.”

It had also been argued by the defence that an assertion made on behalf of Mr Banks should be extended to all accused. This was that while he conceded the women may have been restrained, it was not attributable to him because of the numbers present.

Judge Greally went on to direct the jurors on the video footage the jury had seen and reminded them that the oral testimony was of lesser importance.

The video was “the best and most reliable account” of the events, she said. She pointed to the defence assertion that Scott Masterson’s actions on the video and that he “invites the gardai to get Joan Burton out of the car” was inconsistent with guilt.

On whether the protest was peaceful or not, she advised the jury to go back to the beginning of the events, with the qualification that only two of the accused were present from the procession at An Cosan - Mr Donaghy and Mr Banks.

Whether the accused might have believed the protest was peaceful or not was something the jury could have regard to in relation to intent, she said.

Any violence at the protest was relevant only as context and the jury’s decision on whether the protest was peaceful or not did not decide the question of guilt, she said.

Addressing the jury on policing, she said they should consider the absence of garda statements raised questions about the fairness of the investigation and whether there was any policing “agenda,” in particular in relation to Paul Murphy.

She asked the jury to consider whether a third form of egress for the garda jeep down Fortunestown Road could have been reasonable.

She had already advised them of two other possible means of leaving - leaving the jeep or reversing it back.

“A third possibility for you to consider is the course which was actually pursued, namely egress down Fortunestown Road,” she said. “That egress was surrounded by gardai and commotion and chaos and certain acts of violence but it is open to you to find that progress down the road, however slowly, was open to them.”

Continuing with her re-charging of the jury, the judge said the prosecution’s case had been that there was a “continuum” of events. It was accepted by the prosecution that if the jury was not satisfied there was total restraint of the two women in the first garda vehicle, the Avensis, the prosecution’s case “falls at the first hurdle.”

Judge Greally reminded  the jury her summary of the evidence was “not a full record.” She then went back over her summary to the jury.

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