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No Justice in the courtroom of Judge Devins.
crime and justice |
Friday December 12, 2008 16:11 by Rudiger - Shell to Sea
Last Wednesday, the 10th December 2008, in Belmullet District Court, Judge Mary Devins showed, in my opinion, her clearest example so far, that she has no interest in the notion of proper and real justice.
Judge Devins never addressed how these injuries came about
This specific example relates to the case of Michael Healy, Pat & Martin O'Donnell and Patrick Coyle who were up on charges from an incident on the 19th January 2007. Judge Devins gave her decision today and she dismissed the charges against Pat & Martin O'Donnell and Patrick Coyle who had been charged with a Section 2 assault and obstruction (Section 19.3 of the Public Order Act). However she chose to find Michael Healy guilty of the Section 19.3 obstruction charge while finding him not guilty of a Section 2 assault or a Section 6 Public Order charge. Sentencing on this charge will happen on 11th of March.
Read the details of the hearing of this case here:
Defence Evidence: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/89431
Prosecution Evidence: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/88002
While I didn't witness the events of the morning of Jan, so can't say exactly what happened, I have been at all the courts relating to this case and in my opinion this decision (to find Michael Healy guilty of obstruction) beggars belief and here's my reasons why:
• In dismissing the Section 2 assaults against 3 of the defendants the judge stated that there was "inconsistencies, uncertainties and lacunae (gaps), in the evidence presented by the prosecution" however Judge Devins claimed that these inconsistencies and uncertainties occured as a result of the initial "flashpoint" which she claimed was instigated by Michael Healy.
• Judge Devins claimed that it was not credible that on the morning in question a voice came from the Gardaí with the order to "take Healy out", as the gardaí weren't from the local area. However Patrick Coyle had claimed that he had seen Sgt. Dermot Bulter (based in Belmullet) shout this direction while both Michael Healy and Pat O'Donnell had given evidence that they had heard the order but couldn't say who had said it. Seeing as she didn't think this order was credible she was "satisfied that Michael Healy was the instigator" of the incident.
• While Judge Devins stated there was "inconsistencies, uncertainties and lacunae" in the garda evidence she never dealt with the massive white elephant in the room. 3 protestors ended up having to receive medical treatment that day after the incident but the Gardaí at the scene, every man to a piece, claimed they had no idea how these injuries occurred to Patrick Coyle, Pat & Martin O'Donnell.
How can Judge Devins possibly claim that inconsistencies and uncertainties started as a result of the confusion brought about because of the initial flashpoint?
How can she believe half the evidence of the Gardaí and not believe the other half? Particularly when the half she chose to believe is contradicted by 3 of the defendants.
Judge Devins chose to believe the improbable idea that the Gardaí were telling the truth for the first half of their evidence but then after the "flashpoint" incident they all got a bit confused and that they only thought they had been assaulted by 4 men. She chose to reject that altogether more likely idea that - the cops were lying to protect their own skin.
Previously during the prosecution's case Judge Devins had admitted that the “totality isn’t a pretty picture” yet she still chose to prosecuted Michael Healy.
In finding the 3 defendants not guilty, Judge Devins stated that "the self serving posturing nature of the oral evidence" of 2 of the 3 accused and the "unedifying naked attempt" of one of the accused to garner self publicity hadn't assisted the defence. The unedifying naked attempt at self-publicity remark presumably related to Pat O'Donnell. He had been photographed along with his brother Martin outside Castlebar hospital by a freelance photographer, with the photo appearing in the Irish Times the following day. However it had emerged during the hearing that the freelance photographer had received Mr O'Donnell's phone number from a journalist who had been at Bellanaboy the morning of the incident. Pat O'Donnell had not initiated contact with the journalist or the photographer so how this can be seen as naked self-publicity is unclear.
Judge Devins continued "the highly selective recall of most of the defence witnesses was at best unimpressive". However she stated that the prosecution hadn't proved their case beyond reasonable doubt against the 3 accused and so "it would be unsafe to convict".
People who were at Bellanaboy in late '06 or early '07 would probably have witnessed that certain Gardaí (Sgt. Conor O'Reilly in particular) would point out certain people to take out of a crowd of protestors. So I would be of the opinion that it was perfectly credible that indeed an order of "take Healy out" could have been shouted. It should be noted that this is the case involved in which 7 minutes of the gardaí footage is missing. Earlier in the trial it had come to light that the photo button on the garda camera had been pressed and so the incident had not been recorded.
After being found guilty of obstruction, Michael Healy was asked by prosecuting officer Inspector Doherty if he wished to apologise to the gardaí involved in the incident, however an emphatic "No" was the reply. Judge Devins adjourned the case until 11th of March for sentencing.
The Second Case.
The next Shell to Sea case up was the hearing of the case against IoIIain O'Mongan who is charged with criminal damage and a trespass charge for an incident that took place on Christmas Day 2007 at Gate 1 of Shell's refinery.
The prosecution case was heard on Wednesday which included evidence from one Security Manager employed by PM, along with 4 employees of Brendan Gilmore security and Sgt James Gill and Gda. Greg Burke.
The first 2 witnesses were the PM Security Manager and a Gilmore security employee who was controlling the CCTV on the site on that day. The Security Manager stated that 3 locks had been broken on the day and that he had seen a man on the gates with some implement. He stated the man came inside the gates and then broke the locks. Next the video was shown that showed 2 men climbing on the gates and inside the gates. Then one of the gates was opened after a while however it was not possible to identify the 2 people involved from the CCTV.
The site administrator for Gilmore security, Eoin Lavelle told how at around 4:10pm on Christmas Day he saw 2 protestors up on the gates at Gate 1 of the Bellanaboy site. He stated that then two Gilmore Security personnel went down to Gate 1 and told the 2 protestors that they were trespassing. Mr Lavelle stated that it was IoIIain O'Mongan up on the gates and inside however he was unable to pick out Mr O'Mongan in the courtroom when asked. Mr Lavelle stated that he had seen Mr O'Mongan carrying a bar and stated that he had seen him damaging the locks.
Under cross-examination Mr Lavelle stated that he had stayed about 100m back from the main Gate 1 and was at the secondary inside gates. Mr Lavelle also stated that 10 security guards statements had been given to the Gardaí a number of days after the incident. Solicitor for Mr O'Mongan, Alan Gannon asked Mr Lavelle if he had prepared these statements as all the 10 statements were identical, however Mr Lavelle stated that he hadn't typed the statements up. Mr Lavelle stated the similarity of the states was because "each individual saw the same thing". Mr Lavelle also accepted that the security contract was a lucrative one and one that they wouldn't want to lose.
The next prosecution witness to give evidence was Kevin Hegarty who also works for Gilmore Security. He stated that following the arrival of protestors outside of Gate 1 the security personnel had decided to withdraw to the inner gates about 100m back from the main gate as they didn't want to make issues worse and also because of safety concerns for their security personnel. He stated that he saw Mr Martin McDonnell and IoIIain O'Mongan on the gates however he also had not gone down to the main gates while the 2 protestors were on or inside the gates.
Next to give evidence was John Donovan who stated that he was one of the 2 security personnel who walked down to Gate 1 when the 2 protestors had initially been on the gates. He stated that IoIIain O'Mongan who was from the same area as himself had been one of the protestors on the gates. Mr Donovan said that they asked the 2 protestors to leave as they were trespassing and that the protestors had left then. However then Mr Donovan stated that after himself and his colleague then returned back to the inner gate, the 2 protestors had returned back on and inside the gates. He stated that he heard the locks snapping and that then one of the gates was opened and the 2 protestors walked out. He stated that the security personnel had headed down to the main gate. Mr Donovan stated that some bog water had been thrown over the gate as well and had hit him on the shoulder. After a while the protestors had headed off.
Under cross-examination, it was put to Mr Donovan by Alan Gannon that he had been reluctant to sign the statement. Mr Donovan accepted this but stated that it was part of the job so he signed it. Mr Gannon had notes written by Sgt Gill taken when Sgt Gill met Mr Donovan. In this Sgt Gill had written that Mr Donovan had said "his position in the company would be jeopardised if he didn't sign" the statements. Mr Donovan stated that he didn't know who had written up the statements but that when everyone else signed the statements he signed too.
Next to give evidence was Sgt Gill who stated that when he called to Bellanaboy along with Garda Burke on Christmas day, that all the protestors had already left. He stated that he had heard that there were protestors at the site and that one of the security personnel had been assaulted. Sgt Gill stated that on the 3rd, 5th & 7th of January he had called to the site at Bellanaboy to talk to the security personnel regarding the incident but they were unwilling to give statements. Sgt. Gill stated that this was because the security personnel were afraid of intimidation for themselves and their family. On the 10th of January, Sgt. Gill returned to Bellanaboy where Eoin Lavelle handed him an envelope with 10 statements. Each of the 10 statements had exactly the same content and each of the statements had been signed. Sgt. Gill stated that he had said that these statements wouldn't do however Mr Lavelle had said that "these were the statements and that there would be no others". Sgt. Gill stated over the next few weeks he had called back to the Bellanaboy and went over the statements with the security personnel and made minor corrections to the statements, things like changing "We" to "I" and that. Sgt Gill stated that he had arrested Mr O'Mongan in Galway by appointment and that Mr O'Mongan made no comment during 2 separate interviews. Sgt Gill also told the Judge that previously another individual had been convicted in relation to the incident.
Under cross-examination Sgt. Gill stated that he had never before come across 10 statements the same ever being handed in for a complaint in his 30 years of experience. Mr Gannon referring to the notes that Sgt Gill had taken on the 23rd of January from his meeting with Mr Donovan stated that Mr Donovan had asked "Is there a prison sentence for contempt of court?". Sgt Gill had replied that Mr Donovan could withdraw the statement if he wished, however then Mr Donovan had said that "he would then be prosecuted for wasting Garda time". Sgt Gill had also written that Mr Donovan had said that "his promotion in the company would be jeopardised if he did not make the statement".
Mr Gannon put it to Sgt. Gill that Mr Donovan statement had not been freely given. Mr Gannon also stated that another of the security personnel, Ms. Reilly had wished to retract her statement but that Eoin Lavelle had given the statement over anyway.
Sgt. Gill stated that it was unusual to have people making the exact same statement regarding an incident. Sgt. Gill told the court that he had asked who had prepared the statements but had not been told.
Alan Gannon stated that "someone somewhere had decided what was going to be in the statements" but that we didn't know who. Sgt Gill also stated that John Donovan had requested that a part of the statement regarding an alleged assault also be removed from the statement. Judge Devins then asked if it was fair to conclude that the statements were of limited probative value.
Next to give evidence was Garda Greg Burke who stated that security personnel had been reluctant to give statements because they feared intimidation of themselves and their families from Shell to Sea protestors. Under cross-examination he stated it was Sean McMenamin of the Project Management group that had made the complaint regarding the incident. Grd Burke also stated that he had not come across a similar incident where a number of identical statements had been handed in, in his 36 years of service. Grd Burke had stated that it was a number of days after the incident when he had received the broken locks and so no forensic examination would have been appropriate at that stage.
This concluded the prosecution’s case following which Alan Gannon sought a direction from the court to have the case dismissed, on the basis that there was no evidence on the face of it, to merit this prosecution in the first place. Mr Gannon claimed that the prosecution had failed to make a prima facie case and the arguments he put forward included that there had been pressure put on people to make statements in order to keep their jobs. Mr Gannon also said that there had been no statement from anyone claiming to own the locks and also that there was no evidence that premission had not been given to enter the site by the owner. It had also not been made clear who actually owned the site. Also Mr Gannon stated that trespass charge referred to the curtilage of a building, however he asked could the gates be claimed to be the curtilage of a building.
In rebutting Mr Gannon's claims prosecution officer Insp. Doherty claimed the reluctance to make the statement arose from the type of incident involved. He claimed if all the witnesses had seen the same thing then the statements would be similar however this was contradicted by Judge Devins who stated that she deals with cases where witnesses have widely differing accounts of the same incidents. Insp Doherty was also questioned as to whether he was saying "they" when he was referring to the person or people who had damaged the locks however he assured the Judge it was "he" that he was saying.
Judge Devins adjourned the case until the 11th of February to consider the application to dismiss.
Judge Devins criticised publicising the injuries not how the injuries came about