Saturday 20 October 2018

Go-to solicitor who fought to keep gay men out of prison

Garrett Sheehan learned so much from defending men charged with indecency, writes Maeve Sheehan

HEROES: Retired judge Garrett Sheehan
HEROES: Retired judge Garrett Sheehan
Senator David Norris
Edmund Lynch
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

A Garda sergeant crept through the front garden of a house to peer into a ground-floor window. Inside were two men he would later claim were engaged in a sexual act. Nowadays that sergeant could find himself in trouble for snooping on a moment of intimacy between consenting adults in the privacy of their own home. In the flatlands of Rathmines in the 1970s, the consenting adults were criminals.

The men were arrested, charged with gross indecency and hauled before the District Court. The case is still vividly recalled by the retired judge, Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, who was then the go-to solicitor for gay men when sex between them was a crime.

His clients were convicted, "based on evidence of a sergeant from Rathmines going into the front garden of a house that was in apartments, peering through the window and maintaining that he had seen sexual activity between two adult men", says Sheehan.

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