Monday 22 January 2018

Man (82) could face trial on allegations of indecent assaults made over 50 years

The Four Courts in Dublin
The Four Courts in Dublin

Aodhan O'Faolain & Ray Managh

The Court of Appeal has cleared the way for an 82-year-old man to be tried in respect of dozens of allegations of indecent assault made against him by multiple complainants.

The man is accused of abusing young males on various dates and locations between the 1960s and the early 1990s.

He brought High Court proceedings against the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ireland and the Attorney General aimed at preventing his trial before the Circuit Criminal Court from proceeding.

The application was brought on grounds of the extremely long delay involved.  Some of the complaints date back to events that allegedly occurred almost 50 years ago. The man’s lawyers argued this imperilled his right to a fair trial.

The man also claimed he was prejudiced because documents and essential witnesses were missing and lawyers argued these would be essential to give him a fair trial.  He also claimed he was the subject of  certain adverse media publicity which prejudiced his right to a fair trial.  

The High Court dismissed his application to halt the trial and this order was appealed by him to the Court of Appeal.

In its judgment the Court of Appeal consisting of Mr Justice Sean Ryan, Mr Justice Gerald Hogan, and Mr Justice Michael Peart unanimously dismissed the appeal.

Giving the court's judgment Mr Justice Hogan said while the delays in the present case were by any standards exceptionally long, the Court of Appeal could not, in light of decisions from the Supreme Court, say the prosecutions could not proceed by reason of delay. 

Mr Justice Hogan said the man will stand trial in respect of some matters that allegedly occurred more than half a century ago. This, he said, is "probably the longest interval between an alleged incident and ultimate trial that the Irish courts have ever had to contend with."

The Judge said while the delays might cause difficulties for the defence and the prosecution it could not be stated they constituted an "irremediable prejudice" in terms of missing evidence or witnesses. 

The court also rejected the man's claim his trial should be stopped on grounds of adverse publicity he received prior to the current charges being brought.

In all the circumstances the Judge said the man's application was dismissed.

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