Friday 15 December 2017

Martin Conmey’s miscarriage of justice hearing adjourned

Aodhan O'Faolain

AN application to decide whether a man's conviction 40 years ago for the manslaughter of a young woman was a miscarriage of justice has been adjourned.

Martin Conmey, whose conviction for the manslaughter of 19-year-old Una Lynskey was overturned in 2010, is seeking a declaration of a miscarriage of justice in his case.

He completed a three year sentence for manslaughter but, following a long legal battle, his conviction was quashed on grounds including important witness statements were not disclosed to the defence. Those statements proved his innocence, he said.

Mr Conmey (61), Porterstown Lane, Ratoath, Co Meath, has always maintained he was not responsible for the death of Ms Lynskey who vanished while returning home from work to her family home at Porterstown Lane in October 1971.

Her body was discovered in a remote part of the Dublin mountains two months later but a post-mortem examination failed to reveal exactly how she died.

Last July, the Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) dismissed an application by the DPP seeking Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman to excuse himself from further hearing Mr Conmey's case.

Mr Justice Hardiman was part of the CCA which overturned Mr Conmey's conviction. The DPP did not object to his being on that court but later objected to his hearing Mr Conmey's applications for costs of his successful appeal and for a certificate of a miscarriage of justice.

The DPP alleged objective bias on grounds including the judge was part of the CCA which overturned the conviction but all grounds of objection were rejected.

When the matter was mentioned before the CCA today, comprising Mr Justice Hardiman, Mr Justice Michael Hanna, and Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, it was adjourned to December when a date will be fixed for the hearing of an application for the costs of the proceedings to date, plus the costs of the recusal application.

Mr Justice Hardiman, referring to part of the CCA's July judgment rejecting the application to recuse, said the comments made in that referred to the DPP and not to counsel in the case. The judgment could not have been clearer as to whom he was referring, he added.

Pauline Walley SC, one of the counsel for the DPP in the case, said she hoped the judge's clarification would be reported.

Mr Conmey's application for a certificate for a miscarriage of justice will be dealt with at a later date.

Mr Conmey and another man, Dick Donnelly, were convicted of Ms Lynskey's manslaughter in 1972. Martin Kerrigan, who was also suspected of having been involved in Ms Lynskey's death, was abducted and killed a short time after her body was discovered.

Mr Donnelly won his appeal against conviction in 1973. Mr Conmey lost his appeal but a second appeal, brought on grounds of newly discovered facts, was allowed in November 2010.

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