Friday 19 January 2018

Foreman freed from jury duty in FitzPatrick case

Sean Fitzpatrick
Sean Fitzpatrick
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

The jury foreman in the trial of former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick has been released from jury duty.

The jury, who have not heard any evidence to date after some five-and-a-half weeks, was told by Judge Mary Ellen Ring that there appears to be "light at the end of the tunnel", adding that she hoped it was the end and not an oncoming train.

Jurors have been asked to come back on Tuesday June 2.

A second jury member was yesterday told that they will be in a position to go on holidays early next month.

And a third juror, a young jobseeker, has told Dublin's Circuit Criminal Court that he has "no income coming in at all," has to travel to court by bus and cannot get a job because any mention of his commitment as a juror in the trial raises difficulties with potential employers.

Yesterday the trial judge said that difficulties experienced by jurors - who do not receive any payments or expenses such as public transport or parking - had arisen time and time again.

"The Juries Act is a matter for the Oireachtas, not judges," said Judge Ring, adding that the young man had raised a legitimate issue that judges had also raised on repeated occasions.

"Keep looking, good luck," Judge Ring told the young juror, adding that she would not "stand in his way" if he was successful in finding a job before June 2 when the jury will return to court.

On April 14 last, Mr FitzPatrick (66) of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow, pleaded not guilty to 27 offences under the Companies Act, 1990.

These include 21 charges of making a misleading, false or deceptive statement to auditors and six charges of furnishing false information.

The charges are in connection with the disclosure of loans allegedly given to him or people connected to him by Irish Nationwide Building Society from 2002 to 2007 while he was an officer of Anglo Irish Bank.

Legal argument began on April 16 last and the jury were repeatedly notified by telephone that the opening of the trial before them would be delayed.

Earlier this month, Judge Ring told the jury that the illness of a witness was causing "serious timetable problems".

During the empanelment of the jury last month, around 31 people were excused from jury service after giving reasons to the judge in private.

Mr FitzPatrick is accused of failing to disclose to Anglo's auditors, Ernst and Young, the true amount of loans to him or people connected with him.

The prosecution claims he authorised arrangements to ensure that the balance of those loans would be reduced or appear to be reduced at the end of the bank's financial year and failed to tell the auditors about those arrangements.

He is also accused of failing to tell the auditors about arrangements between Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society in connection with loans to him by Irish Nationwide.

Finally, he is accused of producing financial statements about the value of loans to Anglo's directors which failed to include the true amounts outstanding by him to the bank.

He denies all the charges.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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