Thursday 22 February 2018

Nora Wall wants DPP as notice party in miscarriage of justice case

Nora Wall
Nora Wall

Aodhan O'Faolain

Former nun Nora Wall wants the High Court to join the the DPP as a notice party to her action for compensation for her wrongful conviction for the rape of a young girl.

Ms Wall had initiated proceedings for compensation as a miscarriage of justice case against the Minister for Justice and State but now wants to join the DPP to the case, Mr Justice Michael White was told.

Her counsel Hugh Hartnett SC said yesterday his side will contend there was negligence in relation to how the prosecution of Ms Wall was handled.

He argued the court could and should join the DPP as a notice party as it appeared the DPP was a de facto notice party as she (DPP) had a counsel in court.

Sunniva McDonagh SC, for the DPP, against whom Ms Wall previously sought orders for non-party discovery, said the application to join the DPP as a notice party took her side by surprise and it should be formally made.

She needed to take instructions from the DPP, some of which may relate to the position of the girl who made the original complaint as the complainant has never had a chance to answer claims made about her, counsel added.

Mr Justice White said the application raised important issues as the DPP, while a public servant, was independent in the discharge of her duties and was not a servant or agent of the Minister.

It was appropriate Ms Wall should swear an affidavit setting out the reasons why she sought to join the DPP to the case and the matter would be heard at a later date, he said.

The judge was dealing with issues arising from his judgment earlier this month directing the Minister to discover documents sought by Ms Wall for her compensation proceedings.  An offer of €75,000 compensation has been rejected by Ms Wall as inadequate.

The cause of action dates back to 1999 after the former Sisters of Mercy nun, known as Sister Dominic, became the first woman to be convicted of rape in Ireland. Ms Wall was released on bail four days into a life sentence when it emerged a prosecution witness had been called, against the direction of the DPP, to testify at her trial.

That witness later admitted fabricating evidence in which she claimed to have seen Nora Wall holding down the alleged victim during the attack. In light of those new facts, the Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) in 2005 declared Ms Wall's conviction a miscarriage of justice.

Last week, Mr Justice White ordered the Minister and State to provide documents including documents recording the reason or reasons, as yet undisclosed, why the witness for the prosecution was not to be called at the trial and any documents prior to July 31 1999, dealing with any assessment of the credibility and/or reliability of the complainant

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