Sunday 21 January 2018

Gardai probe death threats made against senior judge

Justice Paul Carney
Justice Paul Carney

Conor Gallagher

GARDAI are investigating whether alleged death threats made to a well-known High Court judge may have been motivated by his decision to grant bail to a convicted sex offender.

Mr Justice Paul Carney, who heads up the Central Criminal Court, received the threat in a voice mail last month. The person who left the message threatened to shoot him and his wife, and made reference to the judge granting bail to a sex offender.

The message was left by an anonymous male caller on the judge's voicemail service in his chambers in the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin.

A well-placed source said that the threats "were made against his home and his family". It is not known how the caller got Mr Justice Carney's direct number, as the Courts Service has a strict policy of not giving out judges' contact details.

It is understood investigators are concentrating on a possible connection with a sexual offence case which was recently heard by Mr Justice Carney, during which the judge temporarily granted the attacker bail before later imposing a jail sentence.

The judge appeared to make reference to the threats during a recent hearing of the case.

He said a certain voice had been picked up on the court's digital audio recording system during a previous hearing of the case. Mr Justice Carney asked that person to identify themselves.

When a woman in the victim's party stood up and said she had said something, the judge told her it was a male voice he was looking for.

It is understood that gardai are investigating if the voice picked up on the court recording matches that of the person who left the message.

The caller may face charges of making threats to kill or cause harm, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. They could also be held in contempt of court by Mr Justice Carney for attempting to influence a court's decision.

Gardai are also examining whether the threat may have come from one of the many defendants the judge has dealt with over the years.

It is a long list. During his 23 years on the bench, Mr Justice Carney has dealt with well over 100 murder trials and a similar number of rape trials.

He has imposed lengthy sentences on some of the country's most notorious rapists and killers, including Larry Murphy and the infamous "scissor sisters", Linda and Charlotte Mulhall.

Irish Independent

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