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Victim statements face new curbs

Majella Holohan

By Paul Kelly
JUDGES sitting in murder, manslaughter and sex cases could curtail what victims or their families can tell the courts about their ordeals.

The likely move comes after grieving mother Majella Holohan used her victim impact statement, last week, to make fresh allegations against the killer of her 11-year-old son Robert.

This week, two high court judges - including Mr Justice Paul Carney, the judge in the Holohan case - issued warnings about what can be related in victim impact statements.

In a case at the Central Criminal Court on Wednesday, Mr Justice Carney told a prosecution barrister: "I would like you to ensure that in the victim impact statement that no ‘hand grenades’ are lobbed in the course of it."

Similarly, Mr Justice Eamon de Valera said he wanted to see a victim impact report in a manslaughter case before deciding whether to reject all or part of it.

Referring to the Holohan case, he said on Tuesday: "The matter which caused great controversy last week (is) a matter which I have some reservations about."

Ms Holohan had alleged semen was found on the body and that her son was in killer Wayne O’Donoghue’s bedroom early one morning. She further claimed her son had made a 999 call on his mobile phone.

The allegations, which were never brought up during the trial, led to O’Donoghue’s defence team warning that his name had been unfairly blackened.

Law lecturer and barrister Tom O’Malley said yesterday: "As a result of the Holohan case, judges are going to be more conscious to ensure that any victim impact statement tended to court or any individual who intends to speak will stick to the purpose for which the statements were intended.

"A victim impact statement is intended to state the effect that the crime had on the person in question and is not intended as an opportunity for victims to stray into other areas."

Mr O’Malley believes a reform of victim impact statements is overdue.

"These statements have been in existence for 12 to 13 years and it would be a good idea to have some review, to ensure we do not have any repetition of what we had in the Holohan case. One idea is, out of fairness to the defendant, to restrict publication of material that is not really connected to the purpose of the statement," he said.

Judges have the power to intervene if a victim oversteps the mark but they are reluctant to do so for fear of upsetting the victim still further, he claimed.

A solicitor, who did not wish to be named, has suggested the Director of Public Prosecutions should appoint a lawyer to represent the family in court and read out a victim impact statement.

"They should be pre-agreed and supplied to the prosecution, defence and to the court."

 

Victim statements face new curbs

Majella Holohan

By Paul Kelly
JUDGES sitting in murder, manslaughter and sex cases could curtail what victims or their families can tell the courts about their ordeals.

The likely move comes after grieving mother Majella Holohan used her victim impact statement, last week, to make fresh allegations against the killer of her 11-year-old son Robert.

This week, two high court judges - including Mr Justice Paul Carney, the judge in the Holohan case - issued warnings about what can be related in victim impact statements.

In a case at the Central Criminal Court on Wednesday, Mr Justice Carney told a prosecution barrister: "I would like you to ensure that in the victim impact statement that no ‘hand grenades’ are lobbed in the course of it."

Similarly, Mr Justice Eamon de Valera said he wanted to see a victim impact report in a manslaughter case before deciding whether to reject all or part of it.

Referring to the Holohan case, he said on Tuesday: "The matter which caused great controversy last week (is) a matter which I have some reservations about."

Ms Holohan had alleged semen was found on the body and that her son was in killer Wayne O’Donoghue’s bedroom early one morning. She further claimed her son had made a 999 call on his mobile phone.

The allegations, which were never brought up during the trial, led to O’Donoghue’s defence team warning that his name had been unfairly blackened.

Law lecturer and barrister Tom O’Malley said yesterday: "As a result of the Holohan case, judges are going to be more conscious to ensure that any victim impact statement tended to court or any individual who intends to speak will stick to the purpose for which the statements were intended.

"A victim impact statement is intended to state the effect that the crime had on the person in question and is not intended as an opportunity for victims to stray into other areas."

Mr O’Malley believes a reform of victim impact statements is overdue.

"These statements have been in existence for 12 to 13 years and it would be a good idea to have some review, to ensure we do not have any repetition of what we had in the Holohan case. One idea is, out of fairness to the defendant, to restrict publication of material that is not really connected to the purpose of the statement," he said.

Judges have the power to intervene if a victim oversteps the mark but they are reluctant to do so for fear of upsetting the victim still further, he claimed.

A solicitor, who did not wish to be named, has suggested the Director of Public Prosecutions should appoint a lawyer to represent the family in court and read out a victim impact statement.

"They should be pre-agreed and supplied to the prosecution, defence and to the court."

 

Victim statements face new curbs

Majella Holohan

By Paul Kelly
JUDGES sitting in murder, manslaughter and sex cases could curtail what victims or their families can tell the courts about their ordeals.

The likely move comes after grieving mother Majella Holohan used her victim impact statement, last week, to make fresh allegations against the killer of her 11-year-old son Robert.

This week, two high court judges - including Mr Justice Paul Carney, the judge in the Holohan case - issued warnings about what can be related in victim impact statements.

In a case at the Central Criminal Court on Wednesday, Mr Justice Carney told a prosecution barrister: "I would like you to ensure that in the victim impact statement that no ‘hand grenades’ are lobbed in the course of it."

Similarly, Mr Justice Eamon de Valera said he wanted to see a victim impact report in a manslaughter case before deciding whether to reject all or part of it.

Referring to the Holohan case, he said on Tuesday: "The matter which caused great controversy last week (is) a matter which I have some reservations about."

Ms Holohan had alleged semen was found on the body and that her son was in killer Wayne O’Donoghue’s bedroom early one morning. She further claimed her son had made a 999 call on his mobile phone.

The allegations, which were never brought up during the trial, led to O’Donoghue’s defence team warning that his name had been unfairly blackened.

Law lecturer and barrister Tom O’Malley said yesterday: "As a result of the Holohan case, judges are going to be more conscious to ensure that any victim impact statement tended to court or any individual who intends to speak will stick to the purpose for which the statements were intended.

"A victim impact statement is intended to state the effect that the crime had on the person in question and is not intended as an opportunity for victims to stray into other areas."

Mr O’Malley believes a reform of victim impact statements is overdue.

"These statements have been in existence for 12 to 13 years and it would be a good idea to have some review, to ensure we do not have any repetition of what we had in the Holohan case. One idea is, out of fairness to the defendant, to restrict publication of material that is not really connected to the purpose of the statement," he said.

Judges have the power to intervene if a victim oversteps the mark but they are reluctant to do so for fear of upsetting the victim still further, he claimed.

A solicitor, who did not wish to be named, has suggested the Director of Public Prosecutions should appoint a lawyer to represent the family in court and read out a victim impact statement.

"They should be pre-agreed and supplied to the prosecution, defence and to the court."

 

Victim statements face new curbs

Majella Holohan

By Paul Kelly
JUDGES sitting in murder, manslaughter and sex cases could curtail what victims or their families can tell the courts about their ordeals.

The likely move comes after grieving mother Majella Holohan used her victim impact statement, last week, to make fresh allegations against the killer of her 11-year-old son Robert.

This week, two high court judges - including Mr Justice Paul Carney, the judge in the Holohan case - issued warnings about what can be related in victim impact statements.

In a case at the Central Criminal Court on Wednesday, Mr Justice Carney told a prosecution barrister: "I would like you to ensure that in the victim impact statement that no ‘hand grenades’ are lobbed in the course of it."

Similarly, Mr Justice Eamon de Valera said he wanted to see a victim impact report in a manslaughter case before deciding whether to reject all or part of it.

Referring to the Holohan case, he said on Tuesday: "The matter which caused great controversy last week (is) a matter which I have some reservations about."

Ms Holohan had alleged semen was found on the body and that her son was in killer Wayne O’Donoghue’s bedroom early one morning. She further claimed her son had made a 999 call on his mobile phone.

The allegations, which were never brought up during the trial, led to O’Donoghue’s defence team warning that his name had been unfairly blackened.

Law lecturer and barrister Tom O’Malley said yesterday: "As a result of the Holohan case, judges are going to be more conscious to ensure that any victim impact statement tended to court or any individual who intends to speak will stick to the purpose for which the statements were intended.

"A victim impact statement is intended to state the effect that the crime had on the person in question and is not intended as an opportunity for victims to stray into other areas."

Mr O’Malley believes a reform of victim impact statements is overdue.

"These statements have been in existence for 12 to 13 years and it would be a good idea to have some review, to ensure we do not have any repetition of what we had in the Holohan case. One idea is, out of fairness to the defendant, to restrict publication of material that is not really connected to the purpose of the statement," he said.

Judges have the power to intervene if a victim oversteps the mark but they are reluctant to do so for fear of upsetting the victim still further, he claimed.

A solicitor, who did not wish to be named, has suggested the Director of Public Prosecutions should appoint a lawyer to represent the family in court and read out a victim impact statement.

"They should be pre-agreed and supplied to the prosecution, defence and to the court."