Tuesday 24 October 2017

Double murderer given life sentences has convictions confirmed

Gary Campion arriving at the Central Criminal Court yesterday where he is on trial for the murder of Frank 'Frankie' Ryan in Limerick in September 2006
Gary Campion arriving at the Central Criminal Court yesterday where he is on trial for the murder of Frank 'Frankie' Ryan in Limerick in September 2006

Ruaidhrí Giblin

A two-time murderer given two life sentences in separate Central Criminal Court trials has had the second of his two convictions confirmed by the Court of Appeal.

Gary Campion (31), last of Pineview Gardens, Moyross, Limerick had moved to appeal separate convictions for the murders in Limerick of bouncer Brian Fitzgerald outside his home and Frank Ryan who was shot twice in the head by a passenger in his car.

Campion had denied being involved in the murder of Mr Fitzgerald (34) at Brookhaven Walk, Corbally, on November 29 2002 and had also denied murdering Frank Ryan (21) in Moyross, on September 16 2006.

He was found guilty in two separate Central Criminal Court trials and was given two life sentences, first by Mr Justice Peter Charleton on November 15 2007 and then by Mr Justice Paul Carney on May 28 2009.

Campion had his appeal against conviction for the murder of Mr Fitzgerald dismissed in July and his second conviction was confirmed by the Court of Appeal today.

His barrister, Martin O'Rourke SC, had submitted that the trial judge wrongly admitted into evidence witness statements by Mr Errol Ibrahim who was present at the scene of the shooting and spoke to gardaí in the immediate aftermath.

Mr Ibrahim later resiled from what he had said but the prosecution successfully sought to admit his statements into the case under section 16 of the criminal procedure act 2006.

The court heard that Mr Ryan had been shot twice in the back of his head while seated in his own car.

The car was situated between two street lamps and the evidence was that the street lamps weren't operative on the night in question.

Mr Ibrahim was a passenger in the car and the prosecution relied on him as a direct witness, Mr O'Rourke submitted..

Giving judgment today/yesterday(MONDAY), Mr Justice George Birmingham said the court had considered all of the arguments advanced by Campion's lawyers and “the court rejects all of them”.

“None of the arguments relating to Mr Ibrahim's out-of-court statements succeed,” the judge said.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the trial judge was the person best placed to identify whether there was any risk of unfairness and whether the statutory test had been met. The judge's decision to admit Mr Ibrahim's statements was a proper one, Mr Justice Birmingham said.

In so far as he allegedly failed to reconsider his decision after Mr Ibrahim had given evidence, Mr Justice Birmingham said the nature of Mr Ibrahim's character was apparent from an early stage.

The question was not whether Mr Ibrahim was a person of good character or bad character but whether he had told the truth on the occasion he made his statements, Mr Justice Birmingham said.

Furthermore there was other evidence in the case such as pathology and ballistic evidence.

A further ground of appeal relating to a newspaper article was a matter of “some substance”, the judge said, but the publication of a single article did not require the jury to be discharged.

He said the case was handled with particular care by the trial judge and the conclusion reached by the jury was totally open to them.

Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan, and Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, said the court had considered all of the arguments advanced by Campion's lawyers and "the court rejects all of them".

Accordingly, the court confirmed Campion's conviction for murdering Mr Ryan.

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