Thursday 22 February 2018

Serial killer Mark Nash seeks damages for what he claims is the delay in prosecuting him for murders, Supreme Court hears

Mark Nash
Mark Nash
Mark Nash was found guilty of the murders of Sylvia Shiels and Mary Callinan in March 1997
Mark Nash

Aodhan O'Faolain

SERIAL killer Mark Nash is seeking damages for what he claims is the delay in prosecuting him for the Grangegorman murders, the Supreme Court heard.

Nash is currently serving a life sentence after being guilty of the murders of Sylvia Sheils (59) and Mary Callanan (61) at their

sheltered housing in Grangegorman in Dublin in 1997, which is currently under appeal.  He was previously convicted for the murder in 1997 of two people in Ballintober, Co Roscommon.

In 2012, the High Court dismissed judicial review proceedings brought by Nash against the DPP aimed at preventing the Grangegorman trial from proceeding.

He sought the prohibition of his trial on grounds including the delay in bringing the charges, publicity surrounding the case, and because of the unavailability of a witnesses including Dean Lyons who died in 2000.

Nash also claimed he is 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.

The judgments of Mr Justice Michael Moriarty were appealed to the Supreme Court, which in 2014 allowed the trial to proceed.

Today  Nash's appeal against the High Court finding he is not entitled to damages came before a five judge Supreme Court which reserved its judgment.

Hugh Hartnett SC, for Nash, said his client was eventually charged in 2009, ten years after the DPP directed he be charged with both murders.

Nash made admissions to the gardai concerning the Grangegorman murders, which were later retracted, in August 1997, the court heard.

For 12 years Nash was treated as a suspect. Counsel said the delay was because forensic evidence obtained tests carried out on clothing belonging to Mr Nash  should have been carried out years than they were. This resulted in a less satisfactory trial, counsel argued.

Nash suffered prejudice because his application to transfer to a prison in his native England did not proceed and because his client was suspected of being involved in the Grangegorman murders, counsel said.

Nash has also brought an application for the inclusion of additional evidence, not previously before the court, as part of their application for damages.

Counsel said there was "a lack of candour" by the Forensic Science Laboratory as it had not disclosed a potential compromise of forensic evidence in the case.

A jacket belonging to Nash, from which DNA samples were taken, was examined in the same lab where a short time previously blood stained items from the murder scene at Grangegorman were brushed down.

This fact was not brought to the attention of an expert retained on Nash's behalf and only came to light in the lead up to the trial when a second expert was retained and contributed to the delay.

The DPPs argued the application should be dismissed.

Nash was not present in court for the application.

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