All six defendants found not guilty in Jobstown trial

Update:13:52pm: In the Dail chamber the outcome of the Jobstown trial has been labelled a "stunning defeat" for the government by Solidarity TD Mick Barry.

Meanwhile,Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald has denied there was any government agenda at stake in its prosecution or outcome.

Update:12:22pm: All six defendants in the Jobstown trial have been found not guilty.

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy and five other men have been found not guilty of falsely imprisoning former Tánaiste Joan Burton and her adviser during a 2014 water charges protest.

The jury of seven men and four women returned the unanimous verdicts today after just over three hours of deliberations.

The court room, which was packed to capacity, erupted in cheers as the verdicts were handed down shortly after midday.

There were cheers of “No way, we won't pay” and several supporters broke down in tears.

Defendants in the Jobstown trial led by (LtoR) Michael Banks, Ken Purcell, Paul Murphy TD and Scott Masterson leave the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after they were all found not guilty on charges of the false imprisonment of then Tanaiste Joan Burton at a water protest in Jobstown in 2014. Picture: Collins Courts.
Defendants in the Jobstown trial led by (LtoR) Michael Banks, Ken Purcell, Paul Murphy TD and Scott Masterson leave the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after they were all found not guilty on charges of the false imprisonment of then Tanaiste Joan Burton at a water protest in Jobstown in 2014. Picture: Collins Courts.

Paul Murphy, South Dublin County Councillors Michael Murphy and Kieran Mahon, Scott Masterson, Frank Donaghy and Michael Banks were on trial in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for over two months.

They nodded and smiled as the not guilty verdicts were handed down.

They had pleaded not guilty to falsely imprisoning Ms Burton and her adviser Karen O’Connell by restricting their personal liberty without their consent at Fortunestown Road, Jobstown, Tallaght on November 15, 2014.

It is a charge that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The charges against a seventh accused, Mr Purcell (50), of Kiltalown Green, Tallaght, were dropped towards the end of the prosecution case after Judge Greally ruled that the extension of his garda detention in February 2015 was unlawful.

Judge Greally thanked the jury for their “exemplary” service and told them they had shown extreme bravery and courage in taking on the case. A juror was discharged halfway through the trial for personal reasons.

She exempted them from jury service for life. There were further cheers in court as she told the six men they were free to go.

Defendants in the Jobstown trial led by Michael Banks (speaking) and Paul Murphy TD leave the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Defendants in the Jobstown trial led by Michael Banks (speaking) and Paul Murphy TD leave the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

The 40 day trial, which started on April 26, heard the two women were attending a graduation ceremony at An Cosán adult education centre in Jobstown when demonstrations broke out around them. The jury heard they were detained in vehicles for three hours as they attempted to leave the area.

The prosecution case was that by surrounding the cars, the accused men engaged in a joint enterprise to “trap” the women and totally restrain their liberty.

The defence argued that their clients engaged in a peaceful protest and this could not amount to false imprisonment. They submitted that at worst, their clients were engaged in obstructing a vehicle or delaying and inconveniencing the women.

Earlier:The jury in the trial of six men accused of falsely imprisoning Joan Burton and her adviser have asked the court to replay some video footage.

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy and five others are alleged to have committed the offences during a water charge protest in Jobstown in Dublin in 2014, they deny the charges.

It is the prosecution’s case that the women were trapped inside two Garda vehicles when protesters surrounded them as they tried to leave.

Before the jurors resumed their deliberations this morning, they asked for footage taken above the protest by a Garda helicopter to be replayed.

The jury foreperson said they wanted to see if one of the vehicles they were in could have reversed away from the area.

 Jobstown Not Guilty. Pictured is (l to r) Michael Murphy, Paul Murphy TD and Scott Masterson.
Jobstown Not Guilty. Pictured is (l to r) Michael Murphy, Paul Murphy TD and Scott Masterson.


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