Thursday 23 November 2017

FitzPatrick celebrated the night before being formally acquitted and told he was 'free to go'

Former Anglo Bank Chairman, Sean FitzPatrick with his daughter Sarah, after he was acquitted of all charges outside the CCJ court. Picture: Damien Eagers
Former Anglo Bank Chairman, Sean FitzPatrick with his daughter Sarah, after he was acquitted of all charges outside the CCJ court. Picture: Damien Eagers

Andrew Phelan

Former Anglo Irish Bank chief Seán FitzPatrick revealed he has already celebrated his freedom as he was formally acquitted of misleading Anglo's auditors about millions of euro in loans.

The longest-running criminal trial in the history of the State officially came to an end at 10.50am yesterday when Judge John Aylmer directed the jury to find Mr FitzPatrick not guilty on all charges.

The judge told Mr FitzPatrick: "You are free to go and thank you very much for your attendance."

Mr FitzPatrick stood, smiled and replied: "Thank you, judge" before leaving Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

"I don't want to be rude, but I'm not going to speak, I'm not making any comment," he told waiting reporters. Asked if he planned to celebrate today, he said: "That was last night."

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He then got into a waiting taxi with his daughter Sarah and was driven away.

The judge's ruling came after the defence argued that the case should not go before the jury because of flaws in the investigation process and in the prosecution case.

Mr FitzPatrick had pleaded not guilty to 27 offences under the 1990 Companies Act. These included 22 charges of making a misleading, false or deceptive statement to auditors and five charges of furnishing false information in the years 2002 to 2007. The DPP had dropped some charges in recent weeks.

The hearing at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was a retrial after the first trial in May 2015 ended following weeks of legal argument over the flaws in the ODCE investigation. Yesterday Judge Aylmer told the jury of his ruling and added: "I would like to say that if any of you have been reading newspapers or the internet contrary to my admonishments in that regard, I can forgive you on this occasion."

He explained how on Tuesday he had given permission to the media to publish his decision on a matter of law that the prosecution had not made a sufficient case to go to the jury.

"I am going to be careful not to say too much about that," he said. "Because I made a lengthy ruling, I went into a lot of detail and you have effectively given eight months of your lives to this case. I want you to have a full understanding on the basis on which I have decided to direct you to acquit the accused on all counts, but to do that I would have to repeat every word I said yesterday.

"The thrust of what I have decided is there was an investigation of the charges against Mr FitzPatrick which fell short of that which an accused person is entitled to."

He asked the foreperson to sign the issue paper on each of the counts, on which the registrar had written "not guilty" on his direction.

He later added: "Mr FitzPatrick, the prosecution has confirmed that there is nothing else against you. You are free to go."

Irish Independent

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