A Supreme Court ruling that some evidence which helped convict Patrick Quirke of the murder of a DJ known as 'Mr Moonlight' was unlawfully obtained could cause difficulties in other cases, say legal experts.
The declaration by the Supreme Court on Monday that the seizure of a computer at Quirke’s home, as part of investigations into Bobby Ryan’s 2011 murder was unlawful is a significant development in his appeal against his conviction.
Senior barrister Séamus Clarke SC said: “If search warrants aren't specific as to what's being sought when they should have been specific, this ruling may have repercussions for prosecutions pending, where search warrants also have not been specific than they should have been.”
However, he also referenced the 2015 Supreme Court judgment (JC case) which ruled that evidence later deemed to have been obtained unconstitutionally or illegally can be admitted if the prosecution can show the breach was not deliberate.
“I would imagine there will be some analysis now under the JC case as to whether or not certain evidence in the Quirke case is still admissible,” Mr Clarke said.
“But as we know from the JC case, just because a garda does something because of a misunderstanding of the law does not necessarily make the evidence inadmissible."
He added: “There will be some implications but what tends to happen in these cases is there is a big concern at the outset that actually doesn't really amount to that many cases.”
Criminal lawyer Padraig O'Connell, who is based in Killarney, said: "I think it will have very limited implications in a very limited number of cases.
"Experienced gardai are very well versed in the requirements of the district judge in the context of applying for a warrant and the information given before the judge is sworn information.”