Friday 28 April 2017

Garda watchdog to examine issues behind trial collapse

Owen Gaffney leaving Dublin Circuit Court yesterday with his mother Fidelma
Owen Gaffney leaving Dublin Circuit Court yesterday with his mother Fidelma
Garda Sean O'Leary. Photo: Collins
Garda Eoin Murtagh. Photo: Collins
Garda Alan Conlon. Photo: Collins
Garda Claire Delaney. Photo: Collins

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

The Garda Ombudsman and state prosecutors are to investigate "important matters" which led to the collapse of a high-profile trial of four gardai accused of assaulting a young man.

Yesterday, a jury of six men and six women were discharged after Circuit Court judge Desmond Hogan heard submissions about a number of issues that emerged after the trial had started.

The matters, which were not disclosed to the jury, cannot be published for legal reasons.

The four gardai had been accused of beating a young man with batons after breaking into his flat.

Judge Hogan discharged the jury after hearing submissions from the prosecution and defence about "important matters" in the case, which arose last Friday.

The judge explained that these were serious matters which would need to be investigated before the trial proceeds and he put the matter back in court to fix a new trial date.

Fairness

He added that he had made his decision on the principle of fairness to all parties and thanked the jury for their care and attention to the case.

Difficulties with the trial emerged last Friday when Tom O'Connell, prosecuting, made an application to have it adjourned. Mr O'Connell said an "important" matter had arisen in the case and he needed to receive further instructions from the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Judge Hogan acceded to the application and told the jury they should not read anything into it and sent them home for the long weekend. However, yesterday they were discharged.

Gardai Sean O'Leary, Eoin Murtagh, Alan Conlon and Claire Delaney had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to forcing entry to a Basin Street Upper premises, entering as trespassers and assaulting Owen Gaffney (21), causing him harm on February 17, 2008.

Gda Murtagh, Gda Conlon and Gda Delaney had also pleaded not guilty to the false imprisonment of Fidelma Gaffney on the same occasion.

In his opening address to the jury, Mr O'Connell said there would be evidence that the four accused went to the Basin Street address with no warrant and locked Ms Gaffney in her bathroom for five minutes by taking turns to hold the door closed, while they assaulted her son in his bedroom.

The prosecution alleged Mr Gaffney was kicked, punched and beaten by at least one baton as he lay on his bed after a football game earlier that day.

Irish Independent

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