Verdict delay amid claims juror's wife friendly with accused
The verdict in the trial of three former Anglo Irish Bank officials was dramatically delayed by an hour yesterday amid claims the jury foreman's wife was "good friends" with one of the accused.
Following a two month trial, and seven hours of deliberations, the jury were ready to convict former chief Operations Officer Tiarnan O'Mahoney, former company secretary Bernard Daly and former assistant manager Aoife Maguire.
However the verdict was delayed after an anonymous false claim was made that the foreman's wife was good friends with Maguire.
As the Circuit Criminal Court sat just before 1pm prosecuting counsel Dominic McGinn SC said an issue had arisen.
He revealed that in the previous 10 or 15 minutes the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions had received a phone call from someone who said the jury was not "wholly independent".
The caller said there had been some contact with the jurors. He would only give his first name and refused to give any other details.
The caller stated that Ms Maguire and the foreman's wife were friends, it was claimed.
Mr McGinn asked the judge to delay taking the verdict because "if there is some indication of jury tampering or irregularity nothing can be done once the verdict is returned".
Counsel asked for the jury to be sent to lunch while the prosecution investigated the matter. Judge Patrick McCartan agreed to send jurors away until 2pm.
After lunch the prosecution said the caller had gotten some facts wrong and that this indicated they were not telling the truth. Mr McGinn said his instructions now were for the court to take a verdict.
Brendan Grehan SC, for O'Mahoney, objected and said he wanted the jury discharged.
He said the sanctity of the jury deliberations were breached and that there was a suggestion that there was undue influence on jurors.
Judge McCartan refused and ordered that the verdicts be taken.
The judge asked the jury foreman if his wife was friendly with Maguire. The foreman said she wasn't and this was accepted by the judge who then took the guilty verdicts.
All three were convicted with conspiring to conceal or alter bank accounts being sought by Revenue which were connected to chairman Sean Daly and O'Mahoney face five year terms for supplying incorrect information to Revenue.
All three face indeterminate sentences for the charges of conspiracy.
Maguire began to weep as the verdicts were read out while Mr Daly and Mr O'Mahoney remanded expressionless.
Judge McCartan said he was very concerned about what happened over lunch and that he "regretfully" was going to remand the three in custody until sentencing.
He said the events over lunch were indicative of the mischief that can be created although he wasn't blaming it on any of the accused.
There were applications from the defence teams that the three should not be remanded in custody, which was refused by Judge McCartan. He said the "primary consideration" was that they had been found guilty.
All three were remanded in custody and will be sentenced today.