A person whose armed theft conviction was overturned in 2013 has been awarded €5,000 damages by the Supreme Court towards the State over breach of his constitutional proper to a trial “with affordable expedition”.
4 years and 4 months elapsed between the 2009 arrest of Michael O’Callaghan and the quashing of his conviction on enchantment in 2013. He was in custody all that point.
Mr Justice John MacMenamin mentioned the proof confirmed the “dominant” explanation for the delay was deficiencies within the system at the moment, of which the State was conscious and for which it was accountable, and never any conduct by Mr O’Callaghan’s legal professionals because the State argued.
This “extremely uncommon” case associated to a court docket construction since altered with the intention of eliminating systemic delays, he added.
The “clear proof” of systemic delay affecting the listening to of appeals was recognized to the State at the moment, together with from selections of the European Courtroom of Human Rights again to 2005 and since judges publicly repeatedly recognized the backlog of appeals within the system.
A Could 2009 report of a Courtroom of Attraction Working Group famous an “institutional bottle neck” at Supreme Courtroom stage had generated undue delays impacting on the Courtroom of Felony Attraction (CCA) when enchantment numbers had been rising.
By the point the Courtroom of Attraction (COA) was arrange in 2014, there was a backlog of three,000 civil appeals and 600 legal appeals. The acute systemic delay drawback within the CCA on the time brought on Mr O’Callaghan’s enchantment to not be heard inside an inexpensive timeframe, the decide mentioned.
His enchantment needed to be adjourned 5 instances over a 17 month interval as a result of, for systemic causes, it proved unimaginable to empanel judges to take care of it or many lots of of different appeals then pending earlier than the CCA.
In holding Mr O’Callaghan was entitled to €5,000 damages, the decide burdened that was supposed “to take care of the justice of this one case, and never different hypothetical circumstances”.
The “marginal” proof crossed the brink for a discovering of “a violation of his constitutional proper to a trial and enchantment course of carried out in accordance with Article 38.1 of the Structure”.
He was giving the 5 decide court docket’s judgment permitting Mr O’Callaghan’s enchantment towards the COA’s dismissal of his declare for damages.
Now aged in his 50s, Mr O’Callaghan, of Ardcullen, Holyhill, Cork, received an enchantment in 2013 towards his 2011 conviction for a March 2009 theft of Blackpool Publish Workplace in Cork, throughout which €20,000 was taken by two masked raiders. The CCA held there was inadequate proof for the case towards him to have gone to a jury.
After the High Court in 2019 dismissed his declare for damages, he appealed. The COA rejected his enchantment however he secured an extra enchantment to the Supreme Courtroom.
Mr Justice MacMenamin mentioned the substantial lapse of time right here “can solely be a explanation for actual concern” and was a results of defects within the system for which the State was accountable.
Underneath the Structure, the duty lies with the State to supply enough sources to permit a judiciary to conduct its work in a well timed manner as a service to the general public and the State itself, he mentioned.
He was not persuaded a easy declaration could be adequate to replicate the justice of this case, notably taking into consideration Mr O’Callaghan’s interval in custody.
Damages should even be commensurate with the constitutional unsuitable discovered and restricted to that arising immediately because of the denial of the Article 38 proper. That proper had notably penalties, accepting Mr O’Callaghan was entitled to a well timed order finally granted by the CCA.
Had the enchantment been accomplished inside an inexpensive and proportionate interval to the trial time concerned, there may have been no breach of Mr O’Callaghan’s constitutional proper, he mentioned.
Mr O’Callaghan was convicted sooner or later of regulation and his conviction was quashed sooner or later of regulation and this judgment was supposed to take care of the justice of this one case.
In concluding €5,000 damages was acceptable, he mentioned that have to be seen within the context that the difficulty is the vindication of a constitutional proper, relatively than a correct tort, and with none proof of misconduct or dangerous religion by the State.
Delay, the decide famous, “can deny even a judgment of its worth”. The progress of this case, initiated within the Excessive Courtroom in 2015, itself illustrated the actual fact “will probably be vital sooner or later to undertake new practices essential to uphold the letter and spirit of the Structure”.
Whereas a few of his judgment could make “uncomfortable studying”, substantial work has been achieved bettering court docket procedures, each in legal and civil proceedings, and that course of is constant, he added.