The trial of a man, accused of deception in relation to the supply of sets of replicas of historical artifacts such as beehive huts and the Ardagh Chalice to schools, came to an abrupt end as the trial judge described it as a total and utter farce yesterday.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said he did not know why the DPP brought the case in the first place, and directed the jury to find the accused not guilty on all 15 charges.
The sets of replicas were to have included models of 17 items including the Ardagh chalice, a beehive hut, the Gallarus oratory, a dolmen, and the Book of Kells, reproduced at a factory in China.
Brendan O’Callaghan, aged 44, of 8 O’Sullivan’s Place, Mallow, Co Cork, pleaded not guilty to all 15 counts against him at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
The charges related to dates in 2009 and 2010 where it had been alleged he made a gain by dishonestly inducing others — namely the principals at 15 primary schools in Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Clare, and Carlow — to refrain from seeking a refund or contacting gardaí.
The prosecution indicated in the opening of the case that the alleged deception was contained in a letter sent to the schools saying there was a problem with the factory in China where the replicas were to be made.
Witness Billy Hale of Ballyporeen, Co Tipperary, an importer arranging to have the items made in China for the accused, testified yesterday that he might have told Mr O’Callaghan that a factory with which he was dealing in China was closed down.
Marjorie Farrelly, defending, asked in the absence of the jury at that stage for the judge to direct the jury to find the defendant not guilty.
The judge acceded to this application.
After the application was made, Judge Ó Donnabháin remarked: “This is turning into a farce.
“This is a total and utter farce. I have no idea what the Director [of Public Prosecutions] is doing in relation to the entire case. It always seemed to me that this was an artful creation not borne out by reality.”
The judge said the approach of the DPP was only matched by the schools who never followed it up (from 2009/2010) until they were approached by the gardaí last year, and then a number of principals indicated that they would have complained to gardaí if they had not received a letter from the defendant about problems in a Chinese factory.
“It is just simply unbelievable,” said Judge Ó Donnabháin.
“On the evidence I don’t believe there are any grounds on which this man could be convicted.”
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