Court hears Doyle appeal against Shane Geoghegan murder conviction

The man convicted of murdering innocent rugby player Shane Geoghegan in a case of mistaken identity must wait to hear whether his appeal against conviction has been successful.

Court hears Doyle appeal against Shane Geoghegan murder conviction

The man convicted of murdering innocent rugby player Shane Geoghegan in a case of mistaken identity must wait to hear whether his appeal against conviction has been successful.

Barry Doyle (aged 29) of Portland Row in Dublin 1, pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Geoghegan in Limerick on November 9, 2008.

He was found guilty by a jury at the Central Criminal Court and given the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan on February 16, 2012.

The trial court heard that Doyle admitted during garda interviews that he shot Mr Geoghegan in a case of mistaken identity.

However, a principal ground of Doyle's appeal against conviction in the Court of Appeal is that gardaí induced him into making these admissions.

Mr O'Rourke has submitted that Victoria Gunnery, with whom Doyle has a child with a hole in his heart, were both used against Doyle during garda interviews as tools of psychological oppression.

Doyle was told during garda interviews that Ms Gunnery was in custody away from their child for the same incident which had him in custody.

At this time, Doyle believed that mother and child had a hospital appointment the following Tuesday, counsel said.

Gardaí were telling Doyle that Ms Gunnery was in custody away from her sick child because of him and he could "do something about that".

They asked him to take responsibility for his actions, to tell the truth about what happened or he would end up in a lot of hardship, Mr O'Rourke said.

They were telling Doyle to keep his "end of the bargain". What bargain was there, Mr O'Rourke asked, if it wasn't related to his kids.

Mr O'Rourke said the admissions should not have been used as evidence in the trial because they were obtained in a "non-voluntary" manner as a result of threats and inducements and psychological oppression by gardaí.

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Tom O'Connell SC, submitted that the arrest and detention of Ms Gunnery, which was now being raised as illegitimate, was never an issue during the trial.

Mr O'Connell said she was arrested on suspicion of withholding information relevant to a scheduled offence and in the course of her interrogation she told gardaí that Doyle had told her he shot Shane Geoghegan.

It was not until his 10th interview, that the gardaí said anything to Doyle about Ms Gunnery's arrest, counsel said.

The reason Doyle confessed, Mr O'Connell said, was because of his humanity.

“His conscience was engaged,” he said.

When Doyle was asked by gardaí why he made the confession, he said he made it because he felt guilty.

There was “nothing about a bargain, nothing about a quid pro quo,” Mr O'Connell said.

“It was his choice,” he said, “because he felt guilty”.

The gardaí were trying to find out who his accomplices were and in response he told them 'I've taken responsibility for my part,' and said no further, Mr O'Connell said.

By withholding information on his accomplices, Doyle showed that he remained in control, counsel said.

Seán Guerin SC, for the DPP, made submissions on access to legal advice.

Mr Guerin said the nub of the point was that Doyle had access to legal advice as frequently and for as long as he required. “That was the essence of the right of access to legal advice,” he said.

Counsel conceded that there was a short period during the 14th interview where Doyle had made a request, the solicitor had not arrived and the interview continued, but diligent efforts were made to contact the lawyer, he said.

Before the confession was made, the interview was interrupted and Doyle had a further conversation with his solicitor, counsel said.

Mr Guerin said Doyle was given notice of his right to access a solicitor, he did so, he received advice and acted on it not to answer questions up to the end of interview 14.

The solicitor was telling the gardaí that the advice remained the same, therefore it was entirely a matter for Doyle, Mr Guerin said.

He said the essence of the right is to be advised whether or not to participate in the process, in other words, to answer questions.

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the court would reserve judgment to a date “as soon as possible”.

On the second day of Doyle's appeal against conviction in the Court of Appeal today, his barrister, Martin O'Rourke SC, further submitted that the trial judge gave a “confusing” warning to the jury regarding threats and inducements.

The trial judge told the jury that the defence suggested a visit by a solicitor dissipated threats and inducements if there were any.

Mr O'Rourke said the judge should have explained to the jury the definition of dissipation, identified the evidence and suggested which parts of the evidence may have dissipated threats and inducements rather than recalling what the defence said.

Mr O'Rourke further submitted that the trial judge misdirected the jury in relation to corroboration evidence.

It was the defence's case, counsel said, that Barry Doyle told the gardaí little more than they had already told him.

The trial judge had told them to exercise caution with regards to the evidence of April Collins but he didn't give reasons why they should exercise caution, Mr O'Rourke submitted, adding that she had been in a relationship with one of the Dundon brothers and may have had “an axe to grind”.

He further submitted that Ms Collins' evidence should have been withdrawn from the jury.

She had testified that the night before the shooting she heard from various conversations that "it's ready. It's all set up".

She mentioned a car and a car was used in the murder. With respect, Mr O'Rourke said, "how could that be corroboration evidence?"

He said anyone who had read the newspapers knew a car had been found burnt out nearby.

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