Conviction overturned for man jailed for a decade

A Dublin man, jailed for a decade for a stabbing which left parts of the victim’s bowel and intestines protruding from his body, had his conviction overturned today.

The Court of Criminal Appeal ruled the publication of newspaper articles during Darren Duff’s trial in July 2008 was such that it created a “real risk” of unfairness to him if members of the jury made a link between them and Mr Duff’s trial.

Mr Duff of (aged 38) of Doon Court, Poppintree Ballymun has his conviction quashed, and a retrial was ordered.

The articles complained of by lawyers for Mr Duff, appeared as the “principle story” on the front page of the Sunday Tribune Newspaper “the day before the fifth day” of their client's trial in July 2008. A “virtually identical” article was published “on the inside” of another Irish newspaper a day later.

The court heard that although the Sunday Tribune article did not refer specifically to “names or places”, it did contain “facts which fitted” the case being tried.

Delivering judgement today, the CCA, Mr Justice Nial Fennelly presiding, held it was a “rare” incidence where an “appropriate direction” to the jury could not “counteract the ill effects” of publication of certain material during the course of a trial, but that in the "unique" and "extraordinary" circumstances of Mr Duff’s case this would not have been “possible”.

During Mr Duff's trial, an attempt was made to have the jury discharged and while the trial judge at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court accepted the material was “open to interpretation” he refused the application.

Mr Duff was sentenced to ten years in October 2008 following his conviction by a jury for causing serious harm to a man by stabbing him on July 28, 2001, at Hillcrest Way Estate in Lucan, Dublin.

Mr Duff was in the appeal court for today’s hearing, dressed in a dark grey pinstripe suit and light yellow shirt.

The CCA said in “no stronger a term” that the publication by a major Irish newspaper of material directly related to the subject matter of a trial in advance of it or during it was “unfortunate”.

Mr Duff was remanded in custody.


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