Tuesday 21 November 2017

Man wanted in Holland for body in canal granted bail by High Court

Brian Kavanagh

A Dublin man wanted in Holland in connection with the discovery of a dismembered body in an Amsterdam canal has had his bail reinstated despite previously failing to appear in court.

Dutch authorities are seeking the surrender of Kenneth Brunell (27) from Palmerstown and Barry McArdle (27) from Drimnagh who were arrested by gardaí on foot of extradition warrants issued in 2011.

The men are wanted to face trial in connection with the death of Keith Ennis (29) from Walkinstown, whose dismembered body was found in an Amsterdam canal in 2009. Mr Ennis was on the run from gardaí at the time.

His body parts were dumped in a suitcase in a canal on the northern outskirts of Amsterdam after he was stabbed to death.

Kenneth Brunell was granted bail in October 2011 but in November 8 last year a bench warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to show up at a High Court hearing of his case. He was arrested ten days later.

Mr Justice John Edwards ordered the surrender of Mr Brunell and Mr McArdle to Holland last month but lawyers for the pair argued there was an abuse of process by Dutch authorities in drafting a prosecution instead of an investigation in order to secure their extradition.

The judge agreed there may be a problem in Irish law with that point and he sent forward a question on judicial oversight and scrutiny in respect of the European Arrest Warrant to the Supreme Court.

Sergeant Sean Fallon today told counsel for the Minister of Justice and Equality, Siobhan Stack SC, that the day before the warrant was issued for his arrest Mr Brunell made contact and told him of what he believed to be a threat against his life.

He said that Mr Brunell also went to Ballyfermot Garda Station in a distressed state in the early hours of November 7, 2013.

Sgt Fallon told Ms Stack that on November 8, Mr Brunell contacted him and arranged to meet at 8pm that night but failed to appear.

Asked by Mr Justice Edwards if the fact that Mr Brunell had been in intermittent contact both before and after the issuing of the warrant and had not totally gone to ground gave credence to the suggestion that he may genuinely have been in fear, Sgt Fallon replied affirmatively.

He told Mr Justice Edwards that the nature of the threat was not advanced any further to him. 

Taking to the stand, Mr Brunell told his counsel, Ms Anne-Marie Lawlor BL, that he failed to meet Sgt Fallon as he was scared about going to jail, did not know what was going to happen and his head was “all over the place”.

Ms Lawlor submitted that her client had made a “grave error” but asked the court to readmit him to bail. She said Mr Brunell had taken a “wrong turn”, made a genuine mistake in a state of panic and had suffered because of it.

Ms Lawlor said that Mr Brunell would remain in custody until November and much more likely a date beyond that, meaning he could be in custody for 14 to 15 months.

Mr Justice Edwards said he was satisfied that this was an appropriate case on which to admit to bail on conditions.

He said Mr Brunell had broken his bail but one important consideration was the length of time he will be held in custody before his case will be heard.

Mr Justice Edwards said that this tipped the scale marginally in favour of admittance to bail as it would be “quite some months” before the case will be heard in the Supreme Court and there would “almost inevitability” be a reserved judgement due to the complexity of the case.

He said he was on balance inclined to accept the evidence of Mr Brunell, and was impressed by his testimony and his sincerity.  Mr Justice Edwards said the court could not form a view on whether there was an objective reality to the perception of duress but Sgt Fallon had accepted it was genuine and the judge believed that Mr Brunell believed he was under threat.

Mr Justice Edwards said that Mr Brunell broke his bail under duress and while this did not excuse it, up to that point the applicant had a good track record. He said he also accepted Mr Brunell’s apology, which struck him as proper and sincere.

He said that bail would be reinstated on an independent surety of €3,000 and on Mr Brunell’s own bond of €100.

Mr Justice Edwards said there would also be a number of conditions, including that Mr Brunell reside at a given address, sign on daily at a Garda Station and keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

In April 2011 a third man, Philip County (31) from Foxdene Gardens in Lucan was extradited to Holland from Ireland in relation to the matter.

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