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DPP criticised by judge over 'voyeuristic' video

THE use of video evidence in high-profile trials is likely to become more common, despite concerns that it sensationalised the Lillis case.

The new €140m Central Courts of Justice (CCJ) is equipped with a selection of electronic evidence display facilities, video conferencing technology and video link facilities.

However, on their first real test run during the Eamonn Lillis trial, Judge Barry White was not impressed by what he saw as the Prosecution's overuse of the equipment.

During the trial he issued a stern rebuke to the Director of Public Prosecutions for what he described as "voyeuristic" evidence.

While making their case against Lillis, the State brought jurors on a virtual tour of the Howth house where Celine Cawley was killed.

However, the judge argued that the level of information provided to the jury and members of the public crossed the line -- turning a serious trial into a "show trial".

Mr Justice Barry White said the prying video of every room in the Lillis house reminded him of the OJ Simpson trial in the United States.

However, the new facilities at the CCJ mean that the use of such evidence is likely to increase.



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The Department of Justice has invested €140m to construct and fit-out the building.

It contains 22 courts, half of which have electronic evidence display facilities, and six have video conferencing and video link facilities.

The tour of the Lillis house was portrayed to the court on three large TV screens, whetting the ghoulish appetites of the courtroom that was packed with members of the public.

After the videos were shown, the jury was asked to retire while the judge reprimanded the prosecution for the detail in the garda video which walked through the house with its en suite bathrooms, elegant living areas, hot tub and sprawling gardens.

The technology was also used to allowed Eamonn Lillis's daughter to give evidence during the trial, without actually facing the courtroom full of her family members and members of the public.

But referring to the video of the house, Mr Justice Barry White set down a marker, warning the DPP "to concentrate on relevant evidence instead of putting on this show trial".

"What has it done other than whet the ghoulish appetite of some members of the public concerning the home of the deceased?"

Later, Judge White told the jury he believed the video was unnecessary and in bad taste.

kdoyle@herald.ie


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