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Judge upholds ban on naming public servant on trial for false imprisonment and sexual assault

Reporting restrictions giving anonymity to the accused were continued by Judge Treasa Kelly.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

A JUDGE HAS continued reporting restrictions giving anonymity to a public servant sent forward for trial for false imprisonment and sexual assault of a woman at his workplace.

In October, at Dublin District Court, Judge Treasa Kelly had adjourned the case for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to prepare a book of evidence for his trial. Bail was granted.

Gardaí charged him with five offences, and when asked if he had a reply, the man, who is in his thirties, said, “not at this time”.

He is accused of three counts of sexual assault, on 29 September 2020, at a building in Leinster.

He faces an allegation of false imprisonment of the woman at the same place.

The fifth charge is for engaging in offensive conduct of a sexual nature at another location from August 23, 2019, to February 25 last year.

Following an application by defence solicitor Martin Moran, reporting restrictions were imposed by Judge Kelly, banning publication of the defendant’s name and occupation.

The case resumed today when counsel for RTÉ and national newspapers addressed the judge on the necessity and legal basis for continuing the reporting restrictions.

Tom Murphy BL submitted that given the nature of the charges, there were no legislative provisions that allowed the court to make the order.

He pointed out that the media had no representation in court when it was granted in October.

Counsel argued that the accused was not charged with offences requiring such an order, and his personal right to privacy was not a basis for making it.

Counsel said he did not believe there was evidence that identifying the accused would impair the man’s right to a fair trial. He said the defence had not identified legislation or statutory provisions entitling the court to make the order.

“My clients’ rights are presently being invaded,” he submitted.

The judge noted that State solicitor Domhnail Forde agreed with the media. At an earlier stage, he had told the court that naming the defendant would in no way identify the alleged injured party in this case.

He had said they “were not connected in any particular way”.

Defence solicitor Martin Moran objected to changing the order and said RTÉ had sent him a vague letter. Submissions should have been prepared, he argued.

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After considering the matter over the lunch break, Judge Kelly stated she did not think it was as straightforward as the media’s barrister submitted. She also thought the defence needed more time to prepare submissions.

Judge Kelly noted the DPP had directed trial on indictment and Garda Superintendent Fergal Harrington served a book of evidence on the accused in court.

Judge Kelly granted a return for trial order sending the accused forward for trial to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. The case is scheduled to be listed there on 18 February next.

She did not lift the anonymity order but said the media could continue its application about the reporting restrictions on the next date.

The accused has not yet entered a plea.

The judge warned him that he must notify the prosecution if he intended to use an alibi in his defence. Furthermore, as part of his bail terms, he must not contact the complainant directly or indirectly by any means.

He spoke briefly to confirm he understood the order.

Copies of his Garda interview videos must be furnished to the defence.

About the author:

Tom Tuite

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