Dental Board v O'Callaghan

JurisdictionIreland
CourtHigh Court
Judgment Date31 January 1969
Date31 January 1969
Docket Number[1968. No. 321 SS.]
[1968. No. 321 SS.]
Dental Board v. O'Callaghan
DENTAL BOARD
Complainant
and
GERARD O'CALLAGHAN
Defendant.

Criminal Law - Evidence - Accomplice - Agent provocateur - Corroboration - Whether agent provocateur must be treated as an accomplice - Dentists Act,1928 (No. 25 of 1928), ss. 45, 47.

Case Stated.

The Case was stated by District Justice Dermot Dunleavey on the 2nd December, 1968, pursuant to the provisions of s. 2 of the Summary Jurisdiction Act, 1857, on the application of the complainant Board. The Case recited that on the 24th July, 1968, at a sitting of the District Court held at Dundalk the District Justice heard a complaint that the defendant, who was not a registered dentist, had practised dentistry on the 1st June, 1968, contrary to the provisions of s. 45 of the Dentists Act, 1928. The Case also recited that, at the hearing of the complaint, it was proved or admitted that the defendant's name did not appear on the dental register on the 1st June, 1968; and that the witness for the complainant Board, who had been employed by the Board for twelve months before the hearing as an inspector and investigator, had been directed by the Board to investigate the conduct of the defendant in respect of the alleged illegal practice by him of dentistry and that the method of investigation had been left to the discretion of the witness. The Case then described the evidence of the Board's witness, which evidence appears in a summarised form in the judgment of Butler J. at p. 183, post.

The Case then continued as follows:—

"5. At the conclusion of the evidence of the witness Counsel for the complainant submitted that an offence had been proved and closed the case for the prosecution.

6. Mr. Mullen, solicitor for the defendant, submitted that the witness was unreliable since he was an accomplice, and that I should not convict on his evidence in the absence of corroboration.

7. Being of opinion that the witness was an accomplice in the commission of an alleged crime, that the only evidence before the court was that of an accomplice, and that not even a thread of evidence by way of corroboration of the evidence of such accomplice had been given, and that in my opinion it was well-settled law that the uncorroborated evidence of an accomplice was unreliable, I held that I would not find the defendant guilty of a criminal offence in absence of corroboration.

8. Accordingly I dismissed the case. I awarded £6 6s. 0d. costs together with £2 0s. 0d. witnesses' expenses and fixed recognizances in the sum of £20 0s. 0d. in the event of an appeal.

9. The opinion of the High Court is sought as to whether upon the above statement of facts my determination was correct in point of law."

The complainant Board was authorised by s. 47 of the Dentists Act, 1928, to prosecute persons for offences under that Act. At the hearing in the District Court of a complaint that the defendant had practised dentistry contrary to the provisions of s. 45 of the Act of 1928, the only evidence in support of the charge was given by one of the Board's inspectors who, being authorised by the Board to do so, had invited the services of the defendant without revealing to him that the inspector was engaged in an investigation on behalf of the Board to detect contraventions of the Act of 1928. The District Justice, being of opinion that the inspector had acted as an accomplice in the commission of the alleged offence and that in law the evidence of an accomplice must be regarded as unreliable unless corroborated, dismissed the complaint but stated a Case for the opinion of the High Court on the question whether he was correct in law in so doing.

Held by Butler J. in remitting the Case, 1, that, even if the inspector must be regarded as having been an accomplice in the commission of the alleged...

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    ...time again that the warning need not be given in any particular form of words, the decision of Butler J. in Dental Board v. O'Callaghan [1969] I.R. 181 is nevertheless useful in setting out its essential constituents. In that case he said: “The rule is that the tribunal of fact, be it Distr......
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1 books & journal articles

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