A NUMBER of cases before the Court of Criminal Appeal, including the case against sex-attacker Anthony Lyons, may have to be reheard because a High Court judge has fallen seriously ill.
Chief Justice Susan Denham has told the Court of Criminal Appeal that Mr Justice Michael Hanna is seriously ill and will probably require a lengthy period of convalescence following his illness.
Cases that will be affected include one brought by Dublin criminal Brian Rattigan, who is appealing his murder conviction to the Supreme Court. Another involves convicted murderers and brothers Warren and Jeffrey Dumbrell.
THE CHIEF JUSTICE SAID THE MOST APPROPRIATE RESOLUTION WAS TO RECONSTITUTE THE RELEVANT COURTS OF APPEAL AND REHEAR THE APPEALS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
The cases that may have to be reheard include that of former priest and serial child abuser Tony Walsh (59), formerly of North Circular Road, Dublin, who is appealing against separate sentences of 16 years and 15 months imposed on him for the rape and sexual abuse of boys in the seventies and eighties.
The Court of Criminal Appeal reserved judgment in the case in July 2013.
In November last year, the Court of Criminal Appeal found that the six-month custodial sentence imposed on businessman Anthony Lyons (52) for a violent sexual assault was "unduly lenient" but reserved the reasons for its judgment. It later also reserved its decision on what sentence should be imposed in its place.
Ms Caroline Biggs SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, told Chief Justice Denham that although there was deemed to be an error in principle in the case, the State was awaiting the reasons for that decision, as well as an indication of what the appropriate penalty should be.
Chief Justice Denham said the presiding judge in the case again wanted to hear the matter as soon as possible and asked that counsel determine a suitable date.
The family of Lyons' victimsaid that the potential delay was "unfortunate but unavoidable" and said they were praying for Mr Justice Hanna and his fanily.
They said: "we feel that maybe there should be a mechanism in place that sets out a procedure when an unfortunate event like this occurs."
Other cases affected include that of a 52-year-old man appealing against a life sentence imposed on him in December 2011 for raping four of his daughters.
A case brought by Brian Rattigan (32), who is seeking leave to appeal his murder conviction to the Supreme Court, may also have to be reheard.
Rattigan is serving a life sentence in Portlaoise prison, having been found guilty by a jury in December 2009 of stabbing 21-year-old Declan Gavin to death outside a restaurant in Crumlin, on August 25, 2001.
The appeal court was this morning able to fix February 14 for the rehearing of the appeal against convictions brought by brothers Warren (39) and Jeffrey Dumbrell (33), who were jailed for life after being convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury of the murder of a 33-year-old man.