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Serial killer Mark Nash seeks Supreme Court damages over alleged delay in his own prosecution

Nash is currently serving a life sentence for the murders of two women in Grangegorman, Dublin, in 1997

Mark Nash Mark Nash being led into a prison van after leaving the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin in 1998

CONVICTED SERIAL KILLER Mark Nash is seeking damages over the delay in prosecuting him for the Grangegorman murders, the Supreme Court has heard.

Nash is currently serving a life sentence after being found guilty of the murders of Sylvia Sheils (59) and Mary Callanan (61) at their sheltered housing in Grangegorman, Dublin, in 1997.

That conviction is currently under appeal.  He was previously convicted for the murder in 1997 of two people in Ballintober, Co Roscommon.

In 2012 the High Court dismissed judicial review proceedings brought by Nash against the Director of Public Prosecutions, aimed at preventing the Grangegorman trial from proceeding.

He sought the prohibition of his trial on grounds including the delay in bringing the charges, publicity surrounding the case, and because of the unavailability of witnesses including Dean Lyons who died in 2000.

Nash also claimed he is entitled to damages because his rights to a trial with due expedition, under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, had been breached.

Legal costs

He also sought the legal costs of his action.

The judgements of Mr Justice Michael Moriarty were appealed to the Supreme Court, which in 2014 allowed the trial to proceed.

Today, Nash’s appeal against the High Court ruling that he was not entitled to damages came before a five-judge Supreme Court comprising: the Chief Justice Ms Susan Denham; Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell; Mr Justice Frank Clarke; Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne and Mr Justice Peter Charleton.

Hugh Hartnett SC for Nash said his client was eventually charged in 2009, 10 years after the DPP directed he be charged with both murders.

The court heard that Nash made admissions to the gardaí concerning the Grangegorman murders, which were later retracted, in August 1997.

For 12 years Nash was treated as a suspect. Counsel said the delay was because forensic evidence obtained from tests carried out on clothing belonging to Mr Nash should have been carried out years earlier than they were. This resulted in a less satisfactory trial, counsel argued.

Counsel said that Nash suffered prejudice because his application to transfer to  a prison in his native England did not proceed because his client was suspected of being involved in the Grangegorman murders.

Additional evidence

Nash’s lawyers have also brought an application for the inclusion of additional evidence as part of their application for damages not previously before the court.

Counsel said there was “a lack of candour” on the part of the Forensic Science Laboratory as it had not disclosed forensic evidence that was potentially compromised in the case.

A jacket belonging to Nash, from which DNA samples were taken, was examined in the same lab where a short time previously bloodstained items from the murder scene at Grangegorman had been brushed down.

This fact was not brought to the attention of an expert retained  on Nash’s behalf and only came to light in the lead up to the trial when a second expert was retained and contributed to the delay.

The DPP, represented by Brendan Grehan SC, opposed the applications.  Counsel for the DPP said matters relating to Nash’s trial that were being ventilated in this application should not be.

Counsel for the DPP also rejected the claim there had been a lack of candour by the Forensic Science Laboratory, and told the court the examinations of the items took place in the same lab some six weeks apart.

Rejecting the claim that there had been a delay that breached Nash’s rights counsel said “no responsible DPP” would have made the decision to charge Nash with the crimes before they did.

The Chief Justice said the court was reserving its decision.

Nash was not present in court for the application.

Comments are disabled as this article concerns an ongoing legal proceeding

Read: Pictured: Mark Nash – and the jacket that helped convict him – hours before brutal murders

Read: Mark Nash sentenced to life for the brutal murder of two women at Grangegorman

About the author:

Aodhan O Faolain

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