The prospect of a number of criminal convictions, sound in every other regard, being overturned because the three-judge Court of Criminal Appeal has ruled that search warrants used to gather evidence in the cases were defective is indeed an appalling vista.
Nevertheless, and despite the huge cost involved in new trials, our courts and the judgments they hand down must stand beyond reproach. It is entirely appropriate that the Government is working quickly to block this loophole which has been exploited in at least three very serious cases. It is reported the ruling could force the courts to reconsider up to 20 verdicts.
It raises the point too about the trust we invest in our gardaí. The convictions fell because the Garda officer who signed the warrants was deemed not to be objective as he was involved in the investigation. Surely we can trust Garda officers to act within the law on these matters even under current legislation? If not the events following yesterday’s ruling and the earlier Damache ruling will seem very minor indeed.
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