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Shannon Court Report

category clare | anti-war / imperialism | news report author Friday December 12, 2003 00:24author by Court Reporter Report this post to the editors

Today's peacenik cases hot off the press.

In Shannon District Court today there were five cases relating to peace activists.
Conor Cregan was up for mention for a highly suspect arrest on Sunday morning.
While four other cases related to arrests made at the June demo.

Conor Cregan and Eoin Rice were arrested in the early hours of Sunday morning December 7th.
Mr. Rice had been in court only six hours earlier and had been followed by detectives for hours after his release. After some time they pulled into a car park to ask the names of their escorts and ask why they were being continually followed.
Mr. Rice attempted to tape the conversation and photograph it. The recording equipment was seized and the two men were arrested under the public order act.
He has lodged a complaint about the arrest and states that when his equipment was returned someone had recorded over his tape.
Having an appearance already scheduled for Ennis court on 12th, Mr. Rice was not in Shannon court today but Mr. Cregan was up before Judge Joseph Mangan.
Two other activists were also present and a further two were absent on medical grounds.

Conor Cregan –who was a peace camp founder and planespotter- arrived in court in a sharp suit and was ready to represent himself in court.
The acoustics in the court (actually the Tullyvarraga Community Hall) are terrible and it doesn’t help that most of the Gardai witnesses have an aversion to speaking at any reasonable volume. This reporter, on occasion, had to move to hear the Garda testimony.
The arresting officer, Det Garda Kieran Fahy testified that he met the accused in the company of another person at 1:15 in the car park of the Shannon Knights where he arrested them under Section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 – that they did “use or engage in threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour with intent to provoke a breach of the peace of being reckless as to whether a breach of the peace might be occasioned.”

The Judge asked Mr. Cregan if he would like to question the arresting officer or enter a plea. Mr. Cregan said that he would like to offer the State the opportunity to withdraw the charges that they had brought against him.
This somewhat surprised the prosecutor, Inspector Kennedy, who said that the State would not be withdrawing the charges.
Mr. Cregan then asked that the judge would strike out the charges as “being utterly without foundation”.
The Judge said that he would have to hear more of the case before he could decide on that issue.
Mr. Cregan asked for a six month adjournment and made an application for a “Garry Doyle” Order (a copy of the police statements and evidence against him)
The Judge granted the Garry Doyle order but adjourned the case for mention until January 15th.
Mr Cregan did not ask for legal representation, but at the insistence of the PROSECUTION the Judge appointed a free legal aid solicitor to the defendant!

Nuria Mustafa-Dunne and her husband John Dunne were called under section 8 and 9 of the Public Order Act -"that they did without lawful authority or reasonable excuse interrupt the free passage of a vehicle in a public place" on a date in June 2003.
There was discussion as to why they were not in court earlier in the day and why they had not appeared on a previous occasion. Both replied that on the previous date that they had been informed by the Garda Siochana that they were not required in court, and that in regards to today’s proceedings that they had not been formally notified and only found out about the hearing from another one of the defendants from the same incident.
The judge moved their case towards the end of the list, and did not deal with it for another 6 hours or so.
By this time, John Dunne had left as he had to go to work and take his daughter home to Galway.
Mrs. Mustafa-Dunne stayed behind to represent herself and her husband.
The judge was not best pleased with the absence of Mr. Dunne and asked the Inspector if he wished to issue a bench warrant for the defendant. Inspector Kennedy said that he did not wish to do this as Mr. Dunne had been present in court for 6 hours.
The judge then asked for a clarification for the non-attendance of the couple on a date in November. Mrs. Mustafa-Dunne stated that she had received a phone call from a Garda who was present in court, telling her that they were not required on the day.
The Judge asked the Garda to take the stand. The Garda explained that he had been told to do this by the Sergeant-in-Charge on the day.
The judge then sought clarification from the prosecuting Inspector, who at first contradicted the testimony of the Garda witness, but then accepted that there had been an error in communication.
The Inspector stated that as the prosecution had intended to adjourn the case anyway that it was no disadvantage to the defendants that they were not present.
The Judge sternly reminded the Inspector that “the Court is the only party that can dispense with the requirement to attend”
The Judge asked Mrs. Mustafa-Dunne’s circumstances and made some comments as to the presence of her daughter in court.
Mrs. Mustafa-Dunne stated that she was a full time mother, and that she had only short notice of today’s court date and had difficulty finding a babysitter.
The Judge said that it was not fair for court to be "interrupted by a child".
Mrs. Mustafa-Dunne replied that the situation was not fair on her child either, but the three-year-old had been very well behaved for her age, and compared to some of the adults in court – a reference to an earlier incident in which a drunken defendant had his phone confiscated for letting it ring loudly on two occasions in court.
The Judge asked the Inspector if he was satisfied that the couple qualified for legal aid, to which the Inspector replied that he would have to investigate their circumstances further.
Mrs. Mustafa-Dunne explained to the court that this was not necessary as she was not seeking to have a solicitor appointed.
She then asked for a Garry Doyle order for both herself and her husband so that she might have copies of the police statements before her next court appearance.
The Judge adjourned the cases until January 8th 2004.

Two other defendants appeared on similar charges arising out of the same incident. Laurence Vize, and Martha Fabregat were represented by the same solicitor who stated that both were unable to attend for medical reasons.

Mr. Vize had obtained a doctor’s certificate stating that he was too ill to attend court at this time.
The solicitor produced a letter stating that his other client, Ms Fabregat, had an ante-natal appointment on the day, which she had mentioned to the court on her previous appearance.
The judge was not fully satisfied with this, especially as the letter was dated after the last court date. The solicitor was evidently not aware that it was a reminder notice. The Judge adjourned the cases until January 8th 2004.

author by Eoin Dubskypublication date Fri Dec 12, 2003 12:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks for that excellent report! There'll probably be a question or two to the Minister for Justice in the Dail next week about this sort of thing.
Good on Nuria for responding like that to the judge about Bushra. In fairness the "courtroom" has pictures of Walt Disney cartoon characters on the walls, so why the hell shouldn't a child be allowed stay to watch the show.

author by Justin Morahan - Peace Peoplepublication date Fri Dec 12, 2003 13:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks again. You are our eyes and ears. All the very best to all the anti-war defendants. Too bad your energies must be frittered away on these endless court appearances but they do one thing: they keep the immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq in the public mind.
I noticed in the charge the words "that they did “use or engage in threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour with intent to provoke a breach of the peace of being reckless as to whether a breach of the peace might be occasioned.”"
I was wondering if the words "of being reckless" should not read "or being reckless"?
The sense of the charge would then be that they EITHER engaged in threatening behaviour OR in abusive behaviour OR in insulting behaviour OR just one of these with intent to provoke a breach of the peace . OR that they engaged in one of these while being reckless as to whether a breach of the peace might be occasioned.
The real charge might be then be as little as engaging in insulting behaviour while being reckless as to whether it occasioned a breach of the peace.
The multi-alternatives charge, whether intended or not, can give defendants a bad name before they even appear in court. The first words are remembered - in this case "Threatening, abusive (behaviour)". It's an unfair system and should be changed.

author by Typo.publication date Fri Dec 12, 2003 17:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

it should have course, say "or" and not "of".

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