Convicted wife murderer Joe O’Reilly has been granted legal aid to pursue an appeal to the Supreme Court, one year after his miscarriage of justice bid was dismissed as an “abuse of process”.
In July 2007, O’Reilly was found guilty by a Central Criminal Court jury and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife, Rachel, at their home in the Naul, Co Dublin, on October 4, 2004.
In 2009, O’Reilly lost an appeal against his conviction and last May an application to have his conviction declared a miscarriage of justice was dismissed as an “abuse of process” by the Court of Appeal.
Ronan Munro, for O’Reilly, sought a legal aid certificate in the Court of Appeal yesterday for O’Reilly to pursue an application to the Supreme Court under its new jurisdiction.
It was not certain that there was an automatic right of appeal to the Supreme Court, as there had been before the Court of Appeal was established, the court heard previously.
In light of developments in a separate case, Mr Justice Birmingham said the Supreme Court seemed to take the view that applications for legal aid should be made to the Court of Appeal.
Mr Munro told the judge O’Reilly was serving a life sentence. As such, there was unlikely to be an issue as to his means.
If the Supreme Court is satisfied legal aid applications should be dealt with in the Court of Appeal “that’s good enough for me”, said Mr Justice Birmingham, who had indicated earlier that three judges would be required to deal with the matter.
O’Reilly was not in court for the procedural matter yesterday.
He has been on legal aid with a solicitor and two counsel at every stage of the proceedings.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved