Sunday 25 February 2018

Supreme Court clears way for solicitor’s trial on fraud charges dating to 1994

Tim Healy

THE Supreme Court has cleared the way for the trial of a solicitor on forgery charges dating back 18 years.

Patrick Enright (51), of Glenlarehan, Castleisland, Co Kerry, is facing trial on ten charges of forging documents purporting to be New York Life Insurance Company claim forms totalling more than $38,000 between January and August 1994.

Mr Enright twice brought legal challenges to his prosecution, arguing, among other reasons, that he would not get a fair trial due to delay.

In the first challenge, in 2008, the High Court and Supreme Court dismissed his case. Following what he said was a further inexcusable delay in bringing him to trial, he again brought a legal challenge in the High Court in February 2011

In July 2011, the High Court again refused to prohibit his trial. He appealed and the Supreme Court earlier this month upheld that decision.

Yesterday, giving its written decision, the Supreme Court directed the DPP apply forthwith for an early trial date for Mr Enright.

In his judgment on behalf of the three-judge court, Mr Justice John MacMenamin said Mr Enright has already agreed to a €9,500 settlement from the Government following a case he took to the European Court of Human Rights over the alleged delay.

However, that settlement did not have a direct bearing on the case here in Ireland to prohibit his trial, the judge said.

The right to compensation for failure to provide an expeditious trial is quite different from seeking to stop the trial, he said.

In relation to Mr Enright's proceedings before the Irish courts, Mr Justice MacMenamin rejected any contention that he (Enright) had no effective remedy available to him to ensure an expeditious trial, including applying for a different judge to take on his case.

While the delay on behalf of DPP in prosecuting the case was significant and largely unexplained, it is accepted no actual prejudice was caused to Mr Enright by the delay, he said.

The case against him is largely based on documents and is therefore not substantially reliant on human factors such as recollection or identification, he said.

The public interest in the prosecution of crime was favoured over Mr Enright's right to an early trial in the balancing exercise which the court had to carry out, he said.

Similarly, there was a balancing exercise in relation to factors such as loss of a person's liberty, stress and anxiety or impairment of his defence through actual prejudice.

There was also, once again, the important factor that the prosecution relies largely on documents, he said.

Assessing each of those factors, and placing each in the balance, Mr Justice MacMenamin found Mr Enright had not discharged the onus which required him to demonstrate as a matter of probability that he will not receive a fair trial.

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