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Guidance for judges as Dundon to appeal

JUDGES across the country have received guidance on how to deal with the effect the garda tapes controversy may have on criminal trials.

The direction, which came from High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, has been described as a "put up or shut up" warning by lawyers who say suspects facing trial must raise the issue of suspected phone taping now – rather than forfeit the right to raise it at a later stage.

The guidance from Judge Kearns comes as a solicitor who represented Limerick gangland figure John Dundon has said he will be seeking a review of his conviction for the murder of rugby player Shane Geoghegan.

SUSPECTS

Following on from last Tuesday's disclosure, the government is fearful of potential turmoil in the justice system over fears that court cases and convictions could be challenged on the basis that defence teams had not been made aware of telephone recordings.

However, legal experts say that suspects who raise the issue of phone intercepts, where they exist, may still face challenges proving a causal link between their conviction and the intercepts.

A small number of trials have been adjourned this week at the non jury Special Criminal Court and Central Criminal Court to ascertain if cases are affected by the revelations of potentially illegal garda intercepts of phone calls in and out of garda stations.

Yesterday Special Criminal Court judge Mr Justice Paul Butler explained that Judge Kearns has suggested that the court should initially seek clarification and information from Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

"Thereafter, the court shall give the defendants representatives time to make any representations they deem fit," said Judge Butler, adding that the overriding concern is to ensure the administration of justice.

Already this week, the Special Criminal Court adjourned a trial to allow time for defence lawyers to consider requesting an independent expert assessment of two Tipperary garda stations in light of the recent revelations about the recording of phone calls.

However, the court ruled that the trial of two Limerick men accused of IRA membership should proceed.

That trial was adjourned on Wednesday, but the court ruled yesterday morning that it had heard "positive" and "impressive" evidence that neither of the two garda stations involved in the case were part of the systematic recording of telephone calls.

HNEWS@HERALD.IE


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