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Thursday 14 December 2017

No charges over claims of jury interference -- DPP

Barry Duggan

NO one will be prosecuted over alleged attempts to interfere with a jury in a murder trial, the Irish Independent has learnt.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has decided not to bring charges after a garda investigation into alleged interference which led to the collapse of a trial last year.

Last March, Greg Crawford began a life sentence for the 2007 gangland murder of Gareth Grant in Limerick.

But a previous trial had collapsed after gardai uncovered what they believed was an attempt made to interfere with a jury member.

It was the first time in the history of the State that a murder jury in the Central Criminal Court had to be discharged after gardai told the presiding judge that attempts had been made to interfere with a juror.

A subsequent garda investigation centred on one person who was an acquaintance of Crawford and had been sworn on to the jury.

In May 2011, while deliberating the fate of Crawford following two weeks of evidence at the Central Criminal Court in Limerick, Mr Justice Paul Carney called the jury back into the court and discharged them.

The 12 people -- who had been discussing the case for two days -- were discharged from jury service for the rest of their lives after the presiding judge was presented with information from Limerick's most senior garda officer.

Chief Superintendent Dave Sheahan told the judge that "certain information" had come into garda possession after the deliberations had begun.

Chief Supt Sheahan said an attempt was made to influence a member of the jury to bring back a not-guilty verdict and a garda investigation began immediately.

Mr Justice Carney recalled the jury and said something was alleged to have occurred which he would not go into, but added that the vast majority of the jurors were "not affected by what happened".

A retrial was ordered and the case was moved to Dublin, where Crawford (24) of St Munchin's Street, St Mary's Park, Limerick, denied the murder of Gareth Grant (25), who was shot dead outside his home at St Ita's Street, St Mary's Park, on October 8, 2007.

The Irish Independent has learnt that the garda investigation into the first trial could not be substantiated and no criminal prosecution will arise from it.

In an address before his retirement, former Director of Public Prosecutions James Hamilton said it was important to take steps to protect juries from intimidation.

"In this regard, the arrangements at the new criminal court complex (in Dublin) will be a major help," he said.

"I think it would be useful if we had a provision whereby completely anonymous juries could be sworn in cases where there was a risk of intimidation, allowing them . . . to hear evidence from behind one-way glass screens or even . . . using video link," Mr Hamilton said.

Irish Independent

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