Europe’s top human rights court will issue a ruling next week on a challenge brought by the killer of a Limerick rugby player shot in a case of mistaken identity.
Barry Doyle is attempting to have his conviction in February 2012, for the murder of Shane Geoghegan four years earlier, quashed by the European Court of Human Rights.
Doyle, 33, has lodged a case against the State, claiming he was denied access to a solicitor during questioning on suspicion of murder.
Doyle, of Portland Row, Dublin, was recruited by members of the Dundon gang to carry out a hit on a rival gang member, but shot Mr Geoghegan by mistake as he arrived at his home in Dooradoyle. Doyle was first arrested in February 2009 in connection with the killing of the Garryowen player on November 9, 2008.
He was taken to a Garda station, informed of his rights, and given access to a particular solicitor. Doyle was subsequently interviewed many times and had access to a solicitor in person and by phone, prior to and during interviews, but the solicitor was not present at the interviews themselves.
In his 15th interview, he admitted killing Mr Geoghegan and provided details about the crime.
In a retrial before the Central Criminal Court, in February 2012 — a jury failed to reach a verdict in his first trial for murder — Doyle’s lawyers sought to have his admissions to gardaí, while in custody, excluded, amid claims he had been induced, threatened, and denied access to legal advice.
The trial judge dismissed the application and he was subsequently found guilty of Mr Geoghegan’s murder and given a mandatory life sentence.
In recent years, before the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, he mounted unsuccessful challenges against his conviction. In 2017, the Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that there was no constitutional right to have a solicitor present during questioning.
Under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which relates to the right to a fair trial and right to legal assistance, Doyle is complaining he was not able to have a solicitor present during his interrogation. He claims this represents a failure by the State to afford him a fair trial.
In the absence of a solicitor, Doyle’s lawyers maintain his rights to silence and not to incriminate himself were eroded and that the refusal by the Central Criminal Court to exclude his admissions effectively deprived him of any defence at trial.