Monday 19 March 2018

Jury foreman in Sean FitzPatrick trial released from duty

Sean Fitzpatrick
Sean Fitzpatrick

Legal Editor

THE jury foreman in the trial of former banker Sean FitzPatrick has been released from jury duty.

A second jury member has been 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," and 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.

This morning trial judge Mary Ellen Ring sympathised with the young jobseeker and said that difficulties experienced by jurors - who do not receive any pay or expenses such as public transport or parking for performing their public duty - 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 2nd next when the jury will return to court.

This morning, the jury - who have not heard any evidence to date after some five and a half weeks  -  was told by trial judge Mary Ellen Ring that there appears to be "light a the end of the tunnel" in the trial.

The trial has been in legal argument since the jury was empaneled on April 14th last.

"That (light at the end of the tunnel) is, for me, at least some comfort, little comfort for you," Judge Ring told the jurors.

Jurors have been asked to come back on Tuesday June 2nd when, Judge Rung said that "all will be done and dusted".

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.

The jury of six men and six women had been told that the trial would run for six weeks up until May 29 but immediate legal issues had to be dealt with before the evidence could be opened to the jury.

Legal argument began on April 16 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 witness illness 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.

The jury includes a housewife, a child care worker, a self employed property manager, a self employed computer programmer, an out of work IT worker, an engineer and a carpenter.

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.

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