Banker's child-porn conviction quashed over invalid warrant
A RETIRED Central Bank administrator who was jailed for the possession of hundreds of thousands of child porn images and videos has walked free from court after his conviction was quashed because of a misdated warrant.
The Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday overturned the conviction of Raphael Farina (67) after it found a warrant used to search his home was dated incorrectly and consequently did not permit entry to his apartment in Dublin city centre.
Farina, of Spranger's Yard, Crow Street, Temple Bar, had pleaded not guilty to three counts of possession of child pornography at his home on June 6, 2007.
He was jailed for four years and fined €5,000 by Judge Patricia Ryan in February 2011 after he was found guilty of having the material by a Dublin Circuit Criminal Court jury.
Farina's defence counsel did not contest any of the evidence against him during the trial and told the judge they were only contesting the validity of the search warrant used by gardai.
Gardai had called to Farina's home with a search warrant as part of an international investigation into child pornography led by the Bavarian State Police in Germany.
The trial heard that Farina was presented with the warrant and invited gardai in to his home where he allegedly made a statement admitting to possession of the material.
Farina, who has no previous convictions, had worked in the Central Bank as a senior administrative officer from the early 1960s and retired the day after he was arrested by gardai.
Moving the appeal, Ms Aileen Donnelly SC told the court that a combination of flaws in the warrant obtained to search Mr Farina's home rendered it invalid in law and incapable of permitting entry to the apartment.
She said that among the five flaws were a misspelling of Mr Farina's address as "Springer's Yard", an absence of information regarding the issuing district court area and number and a misdating of the warrant as May 6, 2007, when it had actually been issued on June 6, 2007.
Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell, presiding, said that before a warrant to enter a home can be executed the legal requirements must be strictly met. He said the defect in the date was fatal to the warrant.
He said that the court had not reserved judgement because Farina has been in custody since 2011. No retrial was ordered.