Saturday 16 December 2017

Uproar as murder accused punches lawyer in courtroom

Vesel Jahiri is accused of murdering Anna Finnegan Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins
Vesel Jahiri is accused of murdering Anna Finnegan Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins

Alison O'Riordan

Security arrangements in courtrooms are to be discussed by the Courts Service and gardaí after a barrister was punched in the face during a case.

Chaotic scenes erupted at the Central Criminal Court when murder accused Vesel Jahiri attacked prosecution counsel Patrick Marrinan SC.

Anna Finnegan
Anna Finnegan

Five prison officers had to wrestle Mr Jahiri to the ground as he leapt across benches after lashing out at the barrister, drawing blood from his nose.

The incident is the latest in a series of flashpoints in the courts in recent times.

Kosovo-born Mr Jahiri (35) was representing himself in his trial for the murder of Anna Finnegan, his former partner and mother of his two children, in Clonsilla, Dublin, in 2012. He has denied the charges.

The incident occurred after Mr Justice Paul Coffey told the jury that Mr Jahiri was not in a position to call any further witnesses and had decided not to make a closing speech.

At that point Mr Jahiri shouted: "The judge is refusing to call witnesses. This trial is not going ahead. You broke the law. This trial is going nowhere. I'm stopping it now."

The judge told Mr Jahiri he had given him an opportunity to call witnesses, but Mr Jahiri said he needed a phone to do so, saying: "I'm in Guantanamo jail."

As Mr Marrinan stood up to speak, Mr Jahiri, who was sat near him, reached across and punched him in the face.

After Mr Jahiri was subdued and taken away, the trial was adjourned for 20 minutes before resuming in his absence.

Security has been an issue in courtrooms in recent times.

In an unrelated case, Judge Miriam Walsh was repeatedly kicked and punched in the face and body by a man during a sitting of the family law court in December 2015. The same month Circuit Court judge Seán O Donnabháin had a book thrown at him by a man who lost an appeal against a conviction for harassing a garda.

Special security arrangements have also had to be put in place in some courts due to disturbances at repossession hearings.

The latest incident is set to be discussed at a scheduled meeting of Courts Service officials and gardaí.

"We have ongoing liaison with gardaí about courthouse security and such incidents are raised there," a spokesman for the Courts Service said.

Meanwhile, gardaí are investigating an incident in which three male youths gained access to grounds of the Four Courts in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

They did not gain access to any buildings.

A Garda spokesman said CCTV was being examined but no arrests had been made.

Irish Independent

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