Friday 20 April 2018

Judge rules Sean FitzPatrick 'can get a fair trial by jury despite years of bad publicity'

Sean FitzPatrick
Sean FitzPatrick

Declan Brennan

A judge has ruled that Sean FitzPatrick can get a fair trial from an impartial jury despite eight years of bad publicity.

Judge Martin Nolan rejected an application from lawyers defending the former Anglo Irish Bank chairman who were seeking for his trial to be adjourned because of a recent case involving other Anglo officials.

The trial and convictions of the officials resulted in a “cascade of sludge” being visited on the head of Mr FitzPatrick, Bernard Condon SC, defending Mr FitzPatrick, told the court

He submitted that this recent adverse publicity would be fresh in the minds of the public and meant that his client could not get a fair trial until the memory of this has faded. Mr Condon argued that a trial on October 5 would be a “deeply flawed” process.

Mr FitzPatrick (66) of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow had pleaded not guilty to 27 offences under the 1990 Companies Act. These included 21 charges of making a misleading, false or deceptive statement to auditors and six charges of furnishing false information in the years 2002 to 2007.

Today at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court Judge Nolan said that a fade out of publicity was not possible for Mr FitzPatrick. He said his case was a unique case in legal history because he has been the subject of “huge criticism, ridicule and odium since 2008.”

He said that he believed he could rely on jury to listen to the evidence and follow instructions and base their verdict on what they heard during the trial alone.

He said: “Mr FitzPatrick's reputation is negative at this stage. It seems to be that the trial should go ahead”.

The trial is listed to start at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on October 5. 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. 

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