DPP v Conroy

 
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1985 WJSC-CCA 1985

THE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEAL

McCarthy J.

Costello J.

Murphy J.

5/1984
People DPP v. CONROY
THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
v.
CHARLES CONROY

Citations:

DPP V FARRELL 1978 IR 13

DPP V LYNCH 1982 IR 64

Synopsis:

CRIMINAL LAW

Evidence

Admissibility - Statement of accused - Prosecution's reliance on statement dependent on issue of fact - Procedure for determining that issue - Whether trial within trial necessary - Whether that issue to be determined by judge or by jury - Stage of trial at which issue to determined - ~The People v. Lynch~ [1982] I.R. 64 examined - (5/84 - C.C.A. - 6/6/85). - [1986] IR 460 - [1988] ILRM 4

|The People v. Conroy|

CRIMINAL LAW

Trial

Issue of fact - Determination - Procedure - Whether judge or jury to determine issue - Whether trial within trial necessary - Stage of trial at which issue may be determined - The People v. Lynch [1982] I.R. 64 examined - (5/84 - C.C.A. - 6/6/85). - [1986] IR 460 - [1988] ILRM 4

|The People v. Conroy|

1

JUDGMENT of the Court delivered by McCarthy J. on the 6th day of June 1985

2

The main challenge to the accused's conviction in this case is that learned trial judge erred in certain procedural rulings which he made in the course of the trial; in particular, that he failed to observe the procedural requirements which were laid down by the Supreme Court in The Director of Public Prosecutions .v. Lynch (1982) I.R. 64. As the submissions made in support of this challenge are based, in the view of this Court, on a misunderstanding of what that case decided it would be as well to start this judgment with a comment on it.

3

In Lynch the Supreme Court quashed a conviction of murder holding that the trial judge should in the exercise of his discretion have excluded an incriminating statement as the circumstances in which it was procured were oppressive. But a further issue in relation to the incriminating statement was considered by the Court. At the trial the accused had alleged that having gone voluntarily to the garda station in which it was made he later had been detained there against his will. It was urged on his behalf that from then on he was in illegal custody in breach of his constitutional rights and the statement made during such custody should not have been admitted in evidence. The issue of fact which was raised was whether the accused had requested permission to leave the station and had been refused. This issue had been tried by the trial judge in the absence of the jury in a trial-within-the-trial and in their judgments the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Walsh commented on the propriety of this procedure.

4

In his judgment the Chief Justice made a very clear distinction between (a) statements made by an accused which are not voluntary; (b) statements made by an accused which are unfairly obtained; and (c) statements made by an accused obtained in breach of constitutional rights (see page 79). In relation to an issue arising as to whether a statement had been secured in breech of constitutional rights the Chief Justice had this to say:

"This latter issue seemed to depend on whether as the gardai swore the appellant had remained in the garda station of his own free will.... or whether (as he swore) he was detained against his will … This conflict of evidence, and the true facts, ought to have been decided by the jury .... In my view the jury either by a specific question or by an appropriate direction ought to have been asked to decide as a question of fact material to the defence, whether the appellant's evidence that he had been held against his wishes was or was...

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