Saturday 20 January 2018

Barmen may face retrial over drink death

Dearbhail McDonald and Barry Duggan

Prosecutors are considering whether to use new laws to retry two barmen cleared of killing a man by serving him too much drink.

Last week, Gary Wright (34) and Adrian Dalton (28) were acquitted by direction of a judge of the manslaughter, by gross negligence, of an Englishman who died of alcohol poisoning in 2008.

Graham Parish (26) died after being served excessive amounts of alcohol, including a single drink containing at least eight measures of spirits, at Hayes Hotel in Thurles, Co Tipperary.

The Irish Independent has learned that the acquittal -- ordered by the judge -- is being reviewed under new laws that allow the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to appeal an acquittal if it believes a trial judge gave a mistaken ruling on a point of law.

Following the review, the bartenders may face retrial.

Under new laws introduced two years ago to circumvent the double jeopardy rule and allow retrials where there is new and compelling evidence, the government also expanded the circumstances in which the DPP can appeal cases to allow the possibility of certain acquittals being overturned.

A jury verdict when all the admissible evidence was tendered cannot be appealed.

But if a trial judge gives a mistaken ruling on a point of law and this leads to an acquittal, the ruling may be appealed.

Last Thursday, trial judge Mr Justice Tom Teehan ruled that the bartenders were not culpable for the death of Mr Parish in 2008.

Following an application by the defence, the judge directed the jury to find the two men not guilty as he determined that the victim had decided himself to drink in the hours leading up to his death.

He said the application came under four points. On the first three, he rejected the defendants' assertions and said the State had established these issues; a duty of care to the victim; the barmen breached that duty and the negligence of the accused men was gross.

However it was the fourth point -- that the negligence of the barmen had caused the victim's death -- which the judge ruled had not been proven.


He said as part of his judgment, it was important not to lose sight of the importance of individual responsibility where the consumption of alcohol is concerned.

The judge said for that reason if there was to be a conviction by a jury, it could not be regarded as safe.

He said a decision had been taken by Mr Parish to consume the drink.

"That was a supervening event. That broke the chain of causation," Judge Teehan explained.

The judge said he had come to the conclusion that no jury properly instructed "could safely bring in a verdict of guilty against either man".

The parents of the deceased, David and Julie Parish, are taking a civil case in the High Court against the Mulcahy Hotel group trading as Hayes Hotel Limited.

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