Williams death threat trial collapses

The jury has been discharged in the trial of a man accused of threatening to kill and cause serious harm to Sunday World journalist Paul Williams.

The jury has been discharged in the trial of a man accused of threatening to kill and cause serious harm to Sunday World journalist Paul Williams.

Judge Donagh McDonagh discharged the jury following legal argument at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. It was day three of the trial, for which a new date will be set later.

James Walsh (aged 45), of Mountain View Drive, Churchtown, Dublin, pleaded not guilty to one count of threatening to kill Mr Williams, Crime Editor of the Sunday World, on June 25, 2003, and a count of threatening to cause him serious harm later the same day.

Mr Williams told Mr Fergal Foley BL, prosecuting, he wanted to interview Mr Walsh about "a matter" and called to his home, where he left his name and contact number.

Mr Williams said he received a call on the morning of June 25, 2003, from a voice he identified as Mr Walsh’s. The reception was bad and the call was made again some minutes later.

He said he was told: "If you write anything about me in the Sunday World you will be meeting Veronica Guerin and I mean that."

Mr Williams said he was "terrified" and believed the message "meant one thing". He said he had been threatened on a number of occasions but that his murdered colleague’s name had never been mentioned to him before in this context.

Mr Williams that around 2.20pm he received another phone call from the same voice which said: "I’ve just been pulled in by your mate (Detective Garda) Joe O’Hara and you won’t be walking very much longer you c***".

Defence counsel Mr John Phelan SC, in cross-examination, presented mobile phone records to the court, which detailed calls made to Mr Walsh’s 086 mobile phone on June 25, 2003.

He said records also showed that Mr Williams received the alleged threat calls from an 087 number, which was in the Ormonde Quay area at 11.38am and Smithfield at 11.40am, and that Mr Walsh received calls while in the Churchtown area at 11.17am and Tereneure at 11.51am.

Mr Phelan said the same 087 number made an unrelated call at 1.45pm from the Half Way House mast area in Walkinstown, while Mr Walsh was in Sundrive Road Garda Station.

Mr Phelan also said Mr Walsh’s 086 number received a call from 2.17pm to 2.24pm from an official Garda phone while he was in Drimnagh.

He said Mr Williams received the second alleged threat at 2.18pm from the 087 number, again from the Half Way House mast area.

Mr Williams agreed with Mr Phelan’s suggestion that it "had to be somebody other than James Walsh" who made the call in the afternoon.

Det Gda O’Hara told Mr Foley that the accused had failed to appear on three previous occasions at Sundrive Road Garda Station for interview.

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