Brothers Warren and Jeffrey Dumbrell had their convictions for murdering a father of six overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeal today.
The CCA of the Chief Justice John L Murray presiding, sitting Mr Justice Liam McKechnie and Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne “set aside” their convictions for murdering Christopher Cawley, holding the jury’s verdict against them was “unsafe”.
A retrial in the case was ordered.
In June 2008, Warren Dumbrell (aged 36) and Jeffrey Dumbrell (30), from Emmet Place, Inchicore, Dublin were jailed for life by Mr Justice Paul Carney for fatally stabbing Mr Cawley (aged 36).
They were found guilty by a jury at the Central Criminal Court of having carried out the attack in the stairwell of flats at Tyrone Place in Inchicore, on October 29, 2006.
Lawyers for both men argued that the trial judge “erred in law and in fact” by failing to discharge the jury during the course of the trial, in circumstances where the possibility existed of the jury being “biased as against the accused” men due to “adverse publicity” attaching to a lecture delivered by the trial judge during their clients’ trial.
The CCA heard statements made by Mr Justice Carney during the course of the Dumbrells’ trial at a lecture in the law faculty at Cork University College, “coupled with the ensuing publicity” and the “particular circumstances of the case”, were such that there was “a real risk or likelihood” that the jury was prejudiced.
It was argued before the three judge appeal court that this speech contained references to issues including the level of fatal stabbings.
Delivering its judgement in the case today, the CCA held the brothers’ ground of appeal “to be well founded”, and quashed their convictions for Mr Cawley’s murder.
The Chief Justice said “full written reasons” for its decision would be given at a later date.