Friday 13 December 2019

Breifne O'Brien 'can't get fair trial on €11m deception charges due to publicity'

Breifne O'Brien. Photo: Collins
Breifne O'Brien. Photo: Collins

Tim Healy

BUSINESSMAN Breifne O'Brien says he cannot get a fair trial on theft and deception charges because of adverse publicity.

The Cork-born financial adviser was yesterday given permission by the High Court to seek a prohibition of his pending trial over the publicity in both print and broadcast media.

He faces 45 charges of theft and deception over an alleged investment fraud.

The District Court heard last September that 19 charges of theft involve sums totalling around €11m from five individuals between 2006 and 2008 and another 19 charges involve alleged deception of the same people.

A further seven charges of deception involving €1.9m relate to one of those five people between 2003 and 2008.

Last November, he was sent forward for trial to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Mr O'Brien (51), who denies the charges, claims however it is not possible to get a fair trial due to adverse pre-trial publicity, Mr Justice Michael Peart was told today.

His counsel, Patrick McGrath said his client was seeking orders of prohibition and a stay on his trial because of the adverse publicity which arose out the alleged facts in the criminal case against him as well as from proceedings in the Commercial Court concerning him.

Mr O'Brien, Kilmore, Monkstown Grove, Monkstown, Dublin, is due to appear in the Circuit Court tomorrow (Wednesday Jan 30) when the case if for mention but so far no date for is trial has been set, counsel said.

There was a "lengthy history" of newspaper clippings about him, counsel said.

It had not been possible to obtain the clippings themselves but his side had exhibited in the papers before the court what was said about him in those articles using an on-line archive site called HighBeam Research, Mr McGrath said.

Mr Justice Peart granted Mr McGrath, who made the application on a one side-only represented basis, leave to seek judicial review prohibiting his trial. The question of a postponement, or stay, on the trial could be dealt with when the matter comes back before the court in March, the judge said. Mr O'Brien was not in court today.

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