The Court of Appeal has dismissed as an “abuse of process” Brian Meehan’s bid to have his conviction for murdering journalist Veronica Guerin declared a miscarriage of justice.
Ms Guerin was murdered on the Naas Road, Dublin, on June 26, 1996 while stopped at traffic lights. A motorcycle pulled up beside her and the pillion passenger discharged shots into her car.
Meehan, 47, from Crumlin in Dublin, is serving a life sentence in Portlaoise prison for her murder having being convicted by the non-jury Special Criminal Court in July 1999 after a 31-day-trial. It was the prosecution’s case that he drove the motorcycle.
Meehan had applied to quash his 1999 murder conviction on the basis of alleged new or newly discovered facts following an unsuccessful appeal against conviction in 2006. The alleged new evidence concerned matters which emerged during the 2001 Special Criminal Court trial of John Gilligan at the close of which Mr Gilligan was ultimately acquitted of Ms Guerin’s murder.
Dismissing Meehan’s application under Section 2 of the Criminal Procedure Act yesterday, Mr Justice George Birmingham said it was “entirely clear” that “no new fact or newly discovered fact” had been established.
Mr Justice Birmingham said it was clear all of the material Meehan was seeking to rely upon now was available, at the latest, from the time of the Gilligan trial in 2001 and that the arguments he now presented had been formulated in detail by 2003. He chose not to present those arguments before the Court of Criminal Appeal and the choices he made had “consequences”, the judge said.
To formulate grounds and arguments, not proceed with them and then seek to resurrect the same grounds and arguments years later as new facts is “quite unacceptable and indeed in the view of the court amounts to an abuse of process”. Mr Justice Birmingham said the application had “morphed” from one based on alleged nondisclosure to one that was critical of his previous lawyers.
He said Meehan’s position toward his Court of Criminal Appeal legal team was “even more extreme”.
In effect, Meehan said the decision not to proceed with the motion to admit new evidence from the Gilligan and Ward trial transcripts was “contrary to his instructions”.
He said he never wished to drop his motion to adduce additional evidence but his then lawyers told him he had to although no affidavit was provided by the solicitor who acted for him in the appeal.
Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the court was satisfied “not only all of the material pointed to” by Meehan was “properly disclosed to him and his legal team but also that its significance was fully appreciated by them, at the very least by the time of his appeal against conviction” in 2003.
Accordingly, the court refused the application.
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