Thursday 19 April 2018

Man jailed for post office robbery faces retrial as evidence taken from PULSE system


Ruaidhrí Giblin

A man jailed for the robbery of a post office faces a retrial because evidence on the alleged ownership of a motorbike used in the robbery was taken from the Garda PULSE system.

Derek Lynch (38), with an address at Kilmore Road, Knocknaheeney, had pleaded not guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to robbery and possession of a firearm at Friar's Road Post Office, Turner's Cross, Cork on May 20, 2012.

He was sentenced to nine years imprisonment with the final year suspended by Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin on May 2, 2013.

Mr Lynch successfully appealed his conviction today with the Court of Appeal holding that evidence from the Garda PULSE system on the ownership of a motorcycle used in the robbery was hearsay evidence and should not have been admitted.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice John Edwards said the post office at Turner's Cross was raided on the date in question by a person acting alone and brandishing a firearm.

Mr Justice Edwards said the cashier locked herself in the backroom while the raider used a sledgehammer to gain access to the cashier area. The raider made off with approximately €2,000 and left the scene on a motorcycle, the judge said.

During the trial, a garda gave evidence that he checked the regisration of the motorcycle on the garda PULSE system and the number allegedly indicated that Mr Lynch was the owner.

Counsel for Mr Lynch, Michael O'Higgins SC, submitted that the trial judge erred in admitting this as evidence of alleged ownership because the Garda PULSE system required human input and, as such, was entirely hearsay evidence.

It was suggested that the proper way to prove a vehicle's regisration was to utilise procedures in the Finance Act.

In circumstances where inadmissible evidence of a profoundly prejudicial nature was put before the jury, the interest of justice required the Court of Appeal to intervene, Mr Justice Edwards said.

The hearsay evidence should not have been admitted and the fact that it was, rendered the conviction unsafe and unsatisfactory, the judge said.

Mr Justice Edwards, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Jutice Alan Mahon, quashed Lynch's conviction and ordered a retrial.

He was remanded on bail – on consent and on a number of conditions – to Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

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