Murder cases reaching Central Criminal Court doubled in 2014

Almost double the number of murder cases were brought to the Central Criminal Court in 2014 than in the previous year.

The Director of Public Prosecutions directed 51 murder cases for indictment to the Central Criminal Court in 2014, compared with 27 in 2013.

These figures are in the DPP’s 2015 annual report, published yesterday.

Of the 51 murder cases, eight led to convictions by a jury, there were two convictions based on a guilty plea and 31 are still “for hearing”. Seven led to other disposals and three ended up becoming with convictions of a lesser charge, such as manslaughter.

In relation to the next most serious crime in the Irish statute book — rape — the DPP directed 65 cases for indictment on this charge in 2014. Six of these led to a conviction by jury, eight convictions due to a guilty plea and three convictions on a lesser charge. These figures are more or less in line with 2013 statistics.

One of the largest jumps noted in the DPP report relates to European Arrest Warrants (EAW).

In 2015, the DPP’s office received 106 EAW files from An Garda Síochána, which resulted in the issuing of 92 warrants.

This figure, when compared with 2014, reflects an almost doubling on the amount of warrants issued.

Compared with the 92 issued in 2015, there were 48 issued in 2014.

“It should be noted that the issue of the EAW and the surrender of the person will not necessarily correspond to the year the file is received,” the report noted.

The DPP said it could not identify the cause of the jump.

“While it is not possible to offer a particular reason for this marked increase in 2015, it does reflect the general increase in the requirement for international cooperation and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.

“The statistics for EAWs from 2008 as published in the 2010 and 2012 reports show an overall upward trend in this area,” a spokesperson for the DPP told the Irish Examiner

.

The Department of Justice was also queried on the matter, to ascertain whether the issuing of EAWs was in any way connected to the rise in terror attacks in Europe.

However, a spokesperson from the department said it was a matter for the DPP.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said earlier this year that no country is immune to an attack of such a nature.

In terms of the DPP’s budget, the office’s total expenditure in 2015 came to €37,699,205. Fees to barristers, who prosecuted cases on behalf of the office, came to €14,022,032, and staffing costs were €12,150,357 for 2015.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Claire Loftus, said despite the number of files her office received last year (14,307), and the limited resources there, staff still operated productively.

“Despite the overall increase in file numbers and other demands on resources the office continued to exceed its targets for time taken to issue directions with 68% of all files being directed on within one month and nearly 90% within three months,” she said.

Ms Loftus said fees given to barristers were an increase on 2014, but were due to the duration of some trials in which the DPP had been involved.

“Expenditure on counsels’ fees rose from €13.4m to €14m, due partly to lengthy trials but also due to the significant increase in cases processed during the first full year of operation of the Court of Appeal.”

Pointing to a significant change in the Irish legal landscape in 2015, the director commented on the EU directive on victims’ rights that came into effect in November 2015.

“The EU directive is a very important measure establishing rights to assist victims who have suffered physically, emotionally and financially as a result of crime,” she said.

It allows people to request responses from the DPP’s office, as to why it did not direct to prosecute in certain cases.


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