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Sunday 21 September 2014

Justice minister ordered to hand over documents to nun who was falsely convicted of rape

Published 20/03/2014 | 16:30

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

THE Minister for Justice has been ordered to hand over documentation which former nun Nora Wall says she needs for her miscarriage of justice case over her wrongful conviction for raping a 12-year-old girl.

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Ms Wall (65) is seeking High Court damages against the State over the DPP's decision to bring the rape case to trial.

She claimed the Minister for Justice, the State and the DPP knew, or ought to have known, the complainant, and an allegedly corroborating witness, had lied in their statements to gardai.

In 1999, the former Sisters of Mercy nun - known as Sister Dominic - was the first woman to be convicted of rape in Ireland.

Ms Wall was released on bail four days into a life sentence after it emerged that a prosecution witness had been called to testify  in her trial - against the directions of the DPP.

This witness later admitted fabricating evidence in which she claimed to have seen Nora Wall holding the alleged victim down during the attack.

In 2005, in light of these new facts, the Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) declared that the former nun's conviction was a miscarriage of justice.

Ms Wall then brought her claim for damages against the State and also sought orders for discovery of documents  in preparation for that case.

She claims the State knew, or ought to have known, that the complainant and the witness, as well as lying to gardai, had connived together in making false statements.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Michael White ordered the Minister and State to provide certain documentation which records the reason or reasons, as yet undisclosed, why the witness for the prosecution was not to be called at the trial.

He ordered the defendants also disclose documentation created before July 31, 1999, dealing with any assessment of the credibility and/or reliability of the complainant.

He also ordered discovery of all documentation recording the systems in place at the time of the trial  to ensure compliance with the directions of the DPP concerning the calling of witnesses, including the corroborating witness.

This includes, but is not limited to, documentation  recording the circulation of the DPP's direction not to call the witness for the prosecution.

The DPP is not a defendant or a notice party in the case and the judge was not making a discovery order against her (DPP). 

For the purposes of this discovery application, he did not regard the DPP as an agent or servant of the Minister and the State.

The judge shared the concerns of the DPP that serious allegations were made against her office and against the complainant when neither were parties to the proceedings.

Mr Justice White also noted the CCA, when certifying Ms Wall's case as a miscarriage of justice in 2005, said it had been established the prosecution witness called at the trial gave "entirely fabricated evidence" which gave rise to a compelling inference of collusion between her (witness) and the complainant.

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