THE Director of Public Prosecutions has told a court that the State will apply to have a 15-strong jury panel – instead of the standard 12 – for the forthcoming criminal trial of three former Anglo Irish Bank executives.
The move follows the introduction of new laws to allow a larger panel of jurors where a criminal trial is expected to last more than two months.
The Juries Act was amended last July after concerns were raised at an earlier pre-trial hearing by Circuit Court Judge Mary Ellen Ring.
Last March, Judge Ring raised the possible need for "alternate jurors" in the trial of former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick and two other executives, William McAteer and Pat Whelan.
Mr Fitzpatrick (65) of Whitshed Road, Greystones; Mr McAteer (62) of Auburn Villas, Rathgar; and Mr Whelan (51) of Coast Road, Malahide, have been charged with 16 counts of allegedly providing unlawful financial assistance to individuals to buy shares in the bank.
The trial could take up to six months and involve 24 million documents in evidence, prompting concerns that a jury could come apart "at the seams".
Yesterday barrister Diana Stuart, for the DPP, said the State would seek a larger jury panel following the introduction of the new juror laws.
Mr FitzPatrick attended the brief hearing, which heard that depositions of "very important" witnesses would take place over the coming weeks.
Mr McAteer and Mr Whelan also attended the brief pre-trial hearing.
The trial is set to begin on January 13 at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring adjourned the pre-trial hearing until December 6, when Judge Martin Nolan will deal with ongoing disclosure hearings.