Monday 20 November 2017

Mark Nash loses damages action over murder trial 'delay'

Tim Healy

A MAN charged with the murder of two women in sheltered accommodation 15 years ago has lost an action for damages over an alleged delay in bringing him to trial.

Mark Nash (38), originally from Huddersfield in Yorkshire, England, was charged in October 2009 with the murder of Mary Callanan and Slyvia Shields at Grangegorman, close to St Brendan's Psychiatric Hospital, Dublin, between March 6 and 7, 1997.

His trial is due to take place on November 3 nextthe High Court heard today.

In 2010, he brought a High Court action seeking prohibition of his trial because of delay in bringing the charges, over publicity surrounding the case, and because of the unavailability of a witness.

Last August, Mr Justice Michael Moriarty refused him an injunction stopping his trial but put back a decision on whether he was entitled to compensation for alleged failure to provide him with an expeditious trial.

He claimed he was entitled to damages because his rights, under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, to a trial with due expedition had been breached. He also sought the legal costs of his action.

Today, Mr Justice Moriarty rejected his claim for damages but awarded him one-third of his costs. The judge agreed to a request from Mr Nash's counsel to put a stay on his order for three weeks in the event of an appeal.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Moriarty said Mr Nash's lawyers had argued that damages for breach of constitutional rights was actionable in itself without proof of special damages having to be provided. In this case, Mr Nash's counsel also pointed to heightened levels of anxiety and difficulties in presenting his defence caused by the alleged delay, the judge said.

The DPP, who opposed his claim for damages, argued that the alleged anxiety - including over "lurid publicity" and because of the breakdown of his family relationships - had not been substantiated by evidence to the court, the judge noted.

The question of prejudicial publicity was "substantially beyond the control of the DPP", it was also argued.

The judge said the evidence on which the charges were brought against Mr Nash "did not surface" until October 2009. He was charged one week later and "matters progressed with sufficient speed" thereafter.

This was not a case, unlike others over the issue of delay, where nothing happened that was unexplained for an extended period of time such as would give rise to a finding that his rights had been breached, the judge said.

"It follows that the applicant's claim for damages is without basis."

Nash was not in court yesterday.

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