Wednesday 17 January 2018

Woman who stood €30k bail for man who fled country before manslaughter trial loses two thirds of amount

Mark Allen (33 - Blue top) in a file photo from 2011
Mark Allen (33 - Blue top) in a file photo from 2011

Sonya McLean

A woman whose friend fled the country before his trial for false imprisonment and manslaughter has had her bail bond partially forfeited to the State.

Karen Duffy, of Hampton Wood, St Margaret's, Dublin acted as an independent surety for Mark Allen (36) when he was granted High Court bail in January 2012 pending a trial for his role in the disappearance of Ciaran Noonan in 2011.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that there were strong garda objections at the time to both Allen being granted bail and Ms Duffy acting as his independent surety, on the basis that Allen was a flight risk and Ms Duffy was involved in a long term relationship with another serious criminal.

Man jailed for nine years after falsely imprisoning father later found dead in field

Judge Martin Nolan heard that Ms Duffy was now contesting an application to forfeit the €30,000 she had posted as bail for Allen.

Ciaran Noonan
Ciaran Noonan

She claimed she didn't know Allen was going to flee and that she contacted gardaí as soon as his girlfriend phoned her to tell her that he had left the country.

Ms Duffy denied a suggestion from prosecuting counsel Ronan Kennedy BL that she posted bail because her ex-husband was an associate of Allen and that she was “a patsy who had no control over Mr Allen”

She told the court she had no idea where Allen fled to and said she thought his girlfriend, her friend, didn't know either.

She said was annoyed when she heard that Allen's girlfriend was with him in Amsterdam when officers arrested him there in February 2014 after he failed to turn up for his trial the previous November.

Allen of Wellview Avenue, Mulhuddart, was jailed for nine years in December 2014 after he later pleaded guilty to the false imprisonment of Ciaran Noonan.

Mr Noonan went missing from East Wall in Dublin 3 on October 20, 2011 after a number of people witnessed him being attacked by a group of men and bundled into a car. His remains were found in a field in County Meath almost two weeks later.

Allen was initially due to stand trial in November 2013 for both false imprisonment and manslaughter but fled the country the month before his court appearance.

He was extradited back to Ireland in February 2014 from Amsterdam after officers there found him with 35 kilogrammes of cannabis and cash.

Judge Nolan said gardaí had their suspicions about Allen and were absolutely sure he was going to escape and made their doubts known to the District Court when he initially applied for bail.

He said Ms Duffy was made aware of “the perils of the course she was taking”. “She knew that if he didn't show up for trial there was a strong possibility that she was going to lose her money”.

“I think she took a chance and she lost,” Judge Nolan said before he ordered that €20,000 of the €30,000 bail bond be forfeited to the State.

“She can keep €10,000 to herself,” Judge Nolan said.

Today, Garda Bob Wilson told Mr Kennedy that he informed the District Court hearing that gardaí felt Allen was “a very, very serious flight risk”.

“Due to the seriousness of the offence and his history of offending we believed that if he was granted bail at any stage he would leave the jurisdiction,” Gda Wilson said.

Allen's bail was refused but he ultimately got High Court bail on condition of an independent surety of €30,000.

The case was then returned to the District Court to allow for approval of surety and Karen Duffy put herself forward.

Gda Wilson told Mr Kennedy that gardaí opposed Ms Duffy as surety as they found her “completely unsuitable”.

“She was in a 12 year relationship with someone that was very well known to the gardaí and involved in organised crime,” Gda Wilson said.

He said the couple had a bank account that had previously been frozen by the Criminal Assets Bureau and gardaí had seized €16,000 from him.

“Her husband was on the run at the time. There were circuit court warrants out for his arrest. She claimed they were estranged but he was still registered as living at her home,” Gda Wilson said.

Allen was one of a number of people investigated and later charged for his role in his disappearance.

He was brought before the District Court that November charged with false imprisonment and strenuous objections were made to bail.

Gda Wilson said Ms Duffy was approved as surety and Allen took up his bail in February 2012.

He said Ms Duffy was made aware by gardaí, legal representatives and the District Court judge of her responsibilities as an independent surety and advised that officers firmly believed Allen was going to abscond before his trial.

Allen was charged with Mr Noonan's manslaughter in May 2012 and his November trial date was set.

He last signed on at his local garda station on October 3, 2013 before he disappeared. He had surrendered his passport but gardaí had received information that he left the country by hiding in the back of a cab of an articulated lorry.

Gda Wilson told Mr Kennedy that Ms Duffy contacted gardaí when she said she had learned that Allen had left Ireland. A warrant was issued for his arrest on October 8, 2013.

Gda Wilson said, in his view, Ms Duffy acted as an independent surety “fully aware” that Allen was not going to turn up for his trial.

He agreed with Mary Rose Gearty SC, representing Ms Duffy, that her client's son has various medical complications and her husband has since formed a new relationship with a woman who is expecting a baby.

Gda Wilson accepted that the €30,000 Ms Duffy had put forward as a surety had come from compensation from a car accident and further accepted that she let the gardaí know when Allen left Ireland.

Ms Duffy told the court that CAB initially seized her and her ex-husband's bank accounts but were later satisfied that the funds had been made up of a credit union loan, a winning cheque from Paddy Power and her own €30,000 insurance claim.

She said she had known Allen a long time and trusted him. She said he knew where her money was coming from.

Ms Duffy told Ms Gearty that she was at a friend's wedding on October 4, 2013 when Mark's girlfriend rang her to tell her he was gone and had “just left in a car”.

“I rang the gardaí straight away. I couldn't lose the money,” Ms Duffy said.

She claimed she didn't know Allen had any intention to leave and she would have reported it to gardaí if she had “any indication”.

Ms Duffy agreed with Mr Kennedy that when gardaí raided her home and discovered the €16,000, the money had been in her handbag but she claimed she didn't know it was there.

She said her ex- husband told her he had won it in poker and she never asked any more questions about it.

Ms Duffy agreed that Allen and her ex- husband were friends but said she had known Allen longer.

She denied that the real reason she went bail was because Allen was an associate of her ex-husband and that she was “a patsy who had no control over Mr Allen”.

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