Sunday 1 February 2015

Trial of man charged in connection with alleged garda surveillance to proceed

Published 16/01/2014 | 19:04

Kenneth Donohoe was sentenced to four years for membership of a terror group by the Special Criminal Court in 2004
The Special Criminal Court has ruled that the trial of a man charged in connection with an alleged surveillance operation on the Dublin headquarters of a number of specialist garda units can proceed.

The Special Criminal Court has ruled that the trial of a man charged in connection with an alleged surveillance operation on the Dublin headquarters of a number of specialist garda units can proceed, despite the non-disclosure of a document offering an alternative explanation for the man’s arrest.

Corey Mulhall (41) was arrested in September 2012 after detectives observed suspicious activity at a hotel close to Harcourt Square. The Harcourt Square building is home to the Special Detective Unit, whose tasks include monitoring the activities of dissident republicans.

Mr Mulhall, of Daletree Court, Ballycullen, has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on September 26th, 2012.

The trial was due to start on Tuesday but counsel for the State, Mr Vincent Heneghan BL, told the non-jury court that an issue had arisen with regard to a document sent under a false name to the defence in November last year.

Ms Deirdre Murphy SC, for Mr Mulhall, today told the court that the document, which was written under the pseudonym “John Kenny”, sets out what the author perceives to be a number of “victories” achieved by him in an “ongoing battle” with gardai of the Stolen Motor Vehicles Unit (SMVU), also based at Harcourt Square.

In the course of the redacted, 10-page document, “Mr Kenny” makes certain allegations about gardai in the SMVU and states that by September 2012 he believed the best manner to protect himself was to make the story public in the media, for which he would need photographs of the gardai involved.

Later in the document, the author outlines how he came to pay €200 to a man he believed to be connected to dissident republicans to book a room at the Harcourt Hotel and take more photographs of Harcourt Square.

“Mr Kenny” said he gave the man €200 to “appease him” and came to believe the man was a “garda informer” and was there to “set him up on a fake charge”. The author alleges that Mr Mulhall was arrested in the context of these circumstances.

Ms Murphy said that the defence received this document in November 2013, while a full, un-redacted version of the document signed by the author using his real name was sent by registered post to the DPP earlier that year.

Counsel told the court that a garda in the SMVU also gave a statement outlining how she took a copy of the un-redacted document in May 2013 and contacted the Special Detective Unit, who are charged with investigating the case at trial, and told them of her findings.

Ms Murphy told the court that another garda made a statement in May 2013 outlining how the author of the document had 24 previous convictions and was the subject of an ongoing investigation.

She applied to adjourn proceedings until proper disclosure was made by the State and a proper investigation was conducted in to the “credible and alternative explanation” for Mr Mulhall’s presence in the Harcourt Hotel.

Counsel for the State, Mr Vincent Heneghan BL, said he was opposing the application and told the court that the prosecution did not see the document until Tuesday morning.

He said that in May 2013 the office of the DPP replied to the un-redacted document and, as it referred to complaints against gardai rather than a DPP function, the DPP may not have seen the significance of the document.

Mr Heneghan said that the Special Detective Unit were not in receipt of the document in May.

Returning judgement, Mr Justice Butler said that the document contained a lot of hearsay evidence but was clearly something that should have been disclosed to the defence.

Mr Justice Butler said that although there was an argument as to whether the document went from one garda unit to another, this did not matter as it was in the possession of gardai and was not disclosed.

However, he said that a similar document came in to the possession of the defence in November last year and they were aware of the matter.

For the moment, Mr Justice Butler said the court did not see that there was any prejudice to the trial proceeding, and the author of the document could be called if he were willing to give evidence.

He said the court believed that the case should proceed and asked that matter of the document be investigated and proceed in tandem with the trial.

The trial continues tomorrow.

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