Defence barrister calls judge's trial conduct 'an absolute disgrace'

The judge in the trial of a man accused of plotting to steal from a cash-in-transit van has been accused of disgraceful and outrageous behaviour by a defence barrister today.

The comments were made after Judge Tony Hunt ruled that the jury could hear details of the previous arrests of the accused, Joseph Warren (aged 30).

Mr Warren of Belclare Crescent, Ballymun has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to conspiring to steal cash from Chubb Ireland at Tesco supermarket on the Shackleton Road in Celbridge on November 2, 2007.

Today, prosecuting counsel, Deirdre Murphy SC, outlined how Mr Warren had been arrested and detained on at least three occasions, unrelated to the investigation of the 2007 offence.

Alan Toal BL, defending Mr Warren, objected to the evidence of these arrests being heard by the jury but Judge Hunt ruled it was admissible.

The judge said Mr Warren was telling the jury he had no previous experience of being arrested after he gave evidence that the robbery and his subsequent arrest were "a new world to me”.

Responding to this decision Mr Toal said: “This is an outrage”.

He said that the manner in which the judge was conducting the trial was an “absolute disgrace”.

Mr Toal later accused the judge of putting "obstacles" in his way and “hamstringing” him at every available opportunity.

The court heard that Mr Warren was arrested on one occasion in relation to a stolen car.

Judge Hunt said: "Being in detention doesn't necessarily mean you've done anything wrong".

Earlier Mr Warren denied that he was “a willing, active and valued member” of the gang involved in the raid.

He refused to accept a suggestion from Ms Murphy that he had “made up this suggestion of a threat from Eamonn Dunne to beat the rap” and that he and Dunne were in fact “mates or associates before the raid, right up until his death.”

“That’s not correct,” Mr Warren replied during his third day of evidence before the jury.

He agreed with Ms Murphy that he refused to get involved in dealing drugs when Dunne said he would have to in order to pay back his debt but that he later agreed to get involved in this raid.

“So this scary man accepts your refusal to do drug dealing? So you were able to refuse one crime, but you could not refuse another crime?” Ms Murphy asked.

“He said you are doing this and that’s the end of it,” Mr Warren replied.

“Did you not think of saying: ‘Oh holy God Eamonn, we’ll go back to plan A’,” Judge Hunt asked the accused.

Later Judge Hunt commented: “You were carrying this man out of the church, this man that landed you in this court”, referring to evidence that Mr Warren acted as a pallbearer at Dunne’s funeral in April 2010.

“Do you think that was wise in retrospect? You can see how it looks?” the judge said to which Mr Warren replied: “I can, but hopefully the jury will see it my way.”

He had earlier told the jury that his parents and Dunne’s parents were good friends from years back and Dunne’s father had asked him to carry the coffin that day.

Mr Warren agreed that he earlier told the jury that in February 2008 his father paid €5,000 over to Dunne which sorted his debt out with the man “in minutes”.

The accused was then asked by counsel why he did not go to his father in September 2007 “to get this gangster off your tail?” when Dunne first threatened him to pay up his debt.

“I had burned all my bridges with my family at that stage,” Mr Warren replied.

“If you were in fear and terror of this terrible man, would you not go to your father saying ‘I am in trouble here’” Ms Murphy asked.

“I did not want to worry my family. I was trying to resolve it myself,” Mr Warren said.

“Would you not go to Brian O’Reilly, Eamonn Dunne’s friend who is related to you by marriage and get him to tell Dunne to ease off,” Ms Murphy asked.

“I only did this in 2008 when my family started to get put in danger. That was a whole different level,” Mr Warren replied.

“If you did that in October 2007, none of us would be here now,” Judge Hunt said to the accused, referring to him approaching his father for what the judge termed as “a dig out”.

“I did not want to drag my family into this,” Mr Warren replied.

Ms Murphy concluded her day long cross-examination by asking the accused if he that thought with Dunne “safely in the ground: ‘Oh I’ll blame the bad dead man’”.

Mr Warren replied that he would not have had “the balls” to take the stand and explain that he had been under threat by Dunne that day if the man was still alive.

“Your first defence that you did not touch the cash-in-transit van did not work out because you were charged with conspiracy so you came up with a second one, ‘Eamonn Dunne made me do it,” Ms Murphy commented.

The trial continues before Judge Hunt and a jury of seven women and four men.

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