Tuesday 27 June 2017

Sean FitzPatrick case will be listed before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court next month

Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick
Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick

By Sonya McLean

The case of Sean FitzPatrick will be listed before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on the first day of the new term sittings in October after his trial was adjourned by the High Court last month.

Mr FitzPatrick (66) of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow has pleaded not guilty to 27 offences under the 1990 Companies Act. These include 21 charges of making a misleading, false or deceptive statement to auditors and six charges of furnishing false information in the years 2002 to 2007.

He had been due to stand trial in October but Mr Justice Michael Moriarty ruled last month at the High Court that the trial should be put back by seven months due to adverse publicity about Mr FitzPatrick.

Lawyers for the former Anglo Irish Bank chairman brought the case to the High Court following a ruling at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court by Judge Martin Nolan, earlier in August, that the trial should go ahead as planned in October.

Judge Nolan had rejected a defence application that Mr FitzPatrick could not get a fair trial following the conviction and sentencing of three former Anglo officials in July.

Today Judge Melanie Greally, at a vacation sitting of Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, consented to a defence application to adjourn the case to October 5 next, before Judge Nolan, to allow for the October trial date to be vacated and a new trial date to be set.

Judge Nolan said at the previous hearing in August that this was a unique case in legal history because the accused man has been the subject of “huge criticism, ridicule and odium since 2008.”

He said he had to decide whether an adjournment of the trial will allow for the adverse publicity and odium heaped on Mr FitzPatrick to fade. He said that a fade out of publicity was not possible for Mr FitzPatrick.

He said that many events will occur between now and October, including a couple of All-Irelands, a rugby world cup, and the build up to a general election.

“I've no doubt there will be villains and heroes produced in the media,” he said.

He said that he believed that a jury could try the case on what they would hear in evidence during a trial and nothing else. He said they could be directed to ignore any adverse publicity and that the accused could get a fair trial.

He said that despite “eight years of bad publicity” Mr FitzPatrick can get a fair trial from an impartial jury.

He said: “Mr FitzPatrick's reputation is negative at this stage. It seems to be that the trial should go ahead”.

Judge Nolan said he took comfort from the fact that in a previous trial a jury acquitted Mr FitzPatrick and that “most of them had to know what had been said about him”.

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