Ex-corporal jailed for attempt to sway juror

A former army coporal who tried to "attack one of the fundamental pillars of the Irish justice system" by trying to influence a jury deliberating in a criminal trial, has been jailed for four years.

A former army coporal who tried to "attack one of the fundamental pillars of the Irish justice system" by trying to influence a jury deliberating in a criminal trial, has been jailed for four years.

James Walsh (aged 45), of Mountainview Drive, Rathfarnham, was convicted by a jury last Thursday of trying to influence a juror in the trial of the Director of Public Prosecutions v Black and Fitzgerald heard from May 25, 2003 to June 4, 2003 at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Judge Donagh McDonagh at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court refused an application by Mr Walsh’s counsel, Mr Peter Finlay SC, for leave to appeal against the severity of the sentence.

Judge McDonagh described Mr Walsh’s actions as trying to commit "as serious an attack as can be imagined" on "our justice system".

In addition to this, Judge McDonagh said, Mr Walsh had also levelled accusations at a member of the An Garda Síochána, namely Detective Sergeant O’Hara who had been chief investigating officer in the case, that were baseless and "distasteful".

He said Mr Walsh had also jeopardised the position of an "ex-army comrade", thereby committing a betrayal of "old army loyalty" that he was so anxious present to the court in his own defence.

A jury of four men and eight women convicted Mr Walsh of attempting to influence a juror but acquitted him by perverting the course of justice by calling a brother of one of the juror members and asking him if the man could be "swung".

The brother, who served in the army with Mr Walsh is currently a prison officer. Judge McDonagh said Mr Walsh had jeopardised the prison officer’s position by calling him and had given an account of the phone conversation that he found "incredible".

Judge McDonagh said he believed the prison officer’s version of the story was "honest and truthful".

Sean Fitzgerald (aged 55), of Dunmore Park, and Jason Black (aged 30), of Tyrnonville Drive, both from Tallaght, were charged with handling a stolen car and setting fire to parts of it on dates unknown between May 20 and May 26, 1999.

The jury in the trial, which had been sequestered in a Dublin hotel when Mr Walsh made the phone call to the prison officer, who was the brother of the foreman of the jury, returned a guilty verdict on both charges against the two men.

They were jailed for five years each on July 29, 2003 by Judge Frank O’Donnell.

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