Accused given permission to try to prevent 'Grangegorman murders' trial

The High Court has granted permission to a man to bring proceedings aimed at preventing his trial for the murder of two women in Dublin 13 years ago in the well-known "Grangegorman murders" case.

The High Court has granted permission to a man to bring proceedings aimed at preventing his trial for the murder of two women in Dublin 13 years ago in the well-known "Grangegorman murders" case.

Last October, Mark Nash (aged 36) was charged with the murder of Mary Callanan and Slyvia Shields at their sheltered accommodation in Grangegorman, close to St Brendan's Psychiatric Hospital, Dublin between March 6 and 7, 1997.

The British national, who is originally from Huddersfield in Yorkshire, is currently serving a double life sentence for murder at Arbour Hill Prison.

However lawyers acting for Nash, who was not present in court today, claim that he cannot get a fair trial on grounds including delay, the publicity surrounding the case and the unavailability of a witness.

Today at the High Court Mr Justice Peter Charleton granted Nash leave to bring judicial review proceedings against the Director of Public Prosecutions aimed at prohibiting his trial for the two women's murders.

The judge, who made a recommendation that the action be heard as early as possible, made the matter returnable to a date next month.

In his action Nash is seeking orders including quashing the DPP's decision to charge him with the murders and having a permanent stay.

He is further seeking declarations from the court that the delay in bringing charges against him for offences that took place 13 years ago has violated his rights to a expeditious trial and is a breach of his Constitutional and European Convention Rights.

He is further seeking declarations that he cannot get a fair trial because of the manner in which key forensic evidence was gathered and maintained, and because of pre-trial publicity.

Today Hugh Hartnett SC for Nash said that was an "extraordinary case" where there had been an extraordinary delay in bringing charges against his client, which counsel said had not been explained.

Counsel said that the case had received extensive publicity where his client was the second person to be charged in relation to the murders. Counsel said that Mr Dean Lyons, who died in September 2000, was charged with the two murders in 1997.

Counsel said that in 1998 the then DPP directed that Nash be charged with the Grangegorman murders. However a report into the the charging of Dean Lyons carried out by now Mr Justice George Birmingham indicated that within the office of DPP there was a clear recognition that mounting a prosecution against Nash would involve considerable difficulties.

Those difficulties related to Mr Lyons' purported confession to the murders and legal advice was sought as to how those difficulties could be overcome. However counsel said that in October 1999 the direction to prosecute Nash was revoked by the DPP.

The charging of Mr Lyons led to an investigation and in 2005 a public apology was made to Mr Lyons' family stating that he had no involvement in the Grangegorman murders. Counsel said that the apology was associated with a highly prejudicial media fanfare identifying Nash as the real suspect and prejudiced his ability to get a fair trial.

Counsel said that as recently as this month a television programme had been broadcast featuring Nash, which he said was highly prejudicial.

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