Judge refuses to allow rape accused change legal representation for sixth time

Judge refuses to allow rape accused change legal representation for sixth time

A judge has refused to allow a rape accused change his legal representation for the sixth time.

The 53-year-old Dublin man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is on bail awaiting trial at the Central Criminal Court in 2021. He is charged with rape and sexual assault.

This morning lawyers for the man brought the case before Mr Justice Paul McDermott and informed the court that the man wished to change his solicitor and barristers for the sixth time.

Mr Justice McDermott said this number of changes was unprecedented. He said that defendants have a right to choose their legal representation but that this is not an absolute right which cannot be exercised as an abuse of the justice system.

He said there was “a whiff” of a “calculation to disrupt the criminal proceedings” by changing counsel so many times.

Solicitor Mark O'Sullivan told the court that there were “issues at play” and that the accused has “issues with trust” of lawyers and with medical professionals.

The man is currently being seen by two GPs, two psychiatrists including a consultant psychiatrist. Mr Justice McDermott remarked that “he is well served” and that this simply went to show that the court has accommodated these assessments.

He said that there is no “fitness to plead” issue so the accused is accordingly fit “to give rational instructions”.

“There has to be a line drawn,” he said and noted another change would mean a seventh set of legal representatives. 

He noted that some of these lawyers were dismissed having done considerable work on the case and may not get paid.

He said while there may be “trust issues” the question was whether they are “justifiable trust issues”.

He said there was no rational reason being put forward and that “simply roaming” into court to seek new lawyers on a casual basis “doesn't cut it at this stage”.

He said that once the medical assessments are completed the matter could be revisited.

“I have an apprehension that I'll be faced with a dismissal on the eve of a trial,” he said and said that any future application on the back of medical assessments should be done in good time.

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