DPP v Doyle

JurisdictionIreland
CourtSupreme Court
JudgeMr. Justice O'Donnell,Denham C.J.,Mr. Justice John MacMenamin,Mr Justice Peter Charleton,Ms. Justice O'Malley
Judgment Date18 January 2017
Neutral Citation[2017] IESC 1
Docket Number[S.C. No. 40 of 2015],Bill number: CC0046/2009 Court of Appeal record number: 2012 No. 50 [2015] IECA 109 [2016] IESC
Date18 January 2017

[2017] IESC 1

An Chuirt Uachtarach

The Supreme Court

Denham C.J.

O'Donnell Donal J.

MacMenamin J.

Charleton J.

O'Malley J.

McKechnie J.

Denham C.J.

O'Donnell Donal J.

McKechnie J.

MacMenamin J.

Laffoy J.

Charleton J.

O'Malley J.

Bill number: CC0046/2009

Supreme Court appeal number: 40/2015

Court of Appeal record number: 2012 No. 50

[2015] IECA 109

[2016] IESC

Between:
The People (at the suit of the Director of Public Prosecutions)
Prosecutor/Respondent
- and -
Barry Doyle
Accused/Appellant

Conviction – Murder – Inducements – Appellant seeking to appeal against conviction – Whether matters set out in the appellant's application constituted threats or inducements made to the appellant and calculated to extract a confession from him

Facts: The appellant, Mr Doyle, on 15th February 2012, was convicted by a jury in the Central Criminal Court of the murder of Mr Geoghegan at Clonmore, Dooradoyle in the city of Limerick, at around 01:00 hours on Sunday 9th November 2008. A key component of the prosecution case was a confession statement made by Mr Doyle while in garda custody following his arrest on 24th February 2009. The circumstances of the interview, which was the 15th during his time in custody, were claimed by Mr Doyle to render the confession inadmissible as, he alleged, the confession came about in consequence of an inducement. The pivotal issue was the arrest of Ms Gunnery, Mr Doyle's former girlfriend and mother of their daughter. An issue was raised by the defence at his trial that this arrest was used to unfairly induce him to confess to the murder when he otherwise would have remained silent. The trial judge, Sheehan J, held the confession admissible in law. The Court of Appeal rejected the appeal of Mr Doyle, on some 27 grounds argued, in a written judgment of the court dated 8th June 2015 ([2015] IECA 109). The Supreme Court, by a determination issued on 28th October 2015, allowed an appeal under Article 34.5.3º of the Constitution on the following issues: (i) Whether or not the appellant was, in the circumstances of this case, entitled to consult with a solicitor, and have a solicitor present, prior to and during the 15th interview with the Garda Síochána, during which admissions were alleged to have been made; (ii) Whether the appellant, in all the circumstances, including that he was convicted in the Central Criminal Court, and the decision of the Supreme Court in DPP v Damache [2012] 2 IR 266, could rely on that decision on his appeal; (iii) Whether the matters set out in the appellant's application under the heading "Relevant facts considered not to be in dispute", or any of them, constituted threats or inducements made to the applicant and calculated to extract a confession from him.

Held by Charleton J that an overall analysis demonstrated that there was material upon which the decision of Sheehan J could responsibly be made. Charleton J handed down a judgment with which Laffoy J concurred. Denham CJ, O'Donnell Donal J, MacMenamin J and O'Malley J also handed down judgments, with McKechnie J dissenting.

On the authorities, therefore, the Court held that the decision could not be disturbed. The Court held that the ultimate test as to whether a statement was made in consequence of an inducement or whether it was "the natural emanation of a rational intellect and free will" had been demonstrated as the appropriate test as to whether at a particular time any particular statement was or was not voluntary. The Court held that it could not be concluded that it was a necessary part of the right to a trial in due course of law under Article 38.1 of the Constitution that a lawyer should be present for the interviewing of a suspect in garda custody. The Court noted that in The People (DPP) v Cunningham [2013] 2 IR 631 and The People (DPP) v Kavanagh [2012] IECCA 65, the Court of Criminal Appeal set out the limited legal circumstances in which an appeal under the Damache ruling may be allowed; that the matter was raised at trial and the appellant has taken no steps to suggest he has acquiesced or waived the point, or the proceedings against the defendant have not yet been finalised. The Court held that on this appeal Mr Doyle did not meet any of these conditions; the issue was not raised before the trial court and the proceedings had been finalised against him.

The Court held that there was no basis for overturning the conviction.

Appeal dismissed.

Judgment delivered on the 18th day of January, 2017 by Denham C.J.
1

Barry Doyle, the accused/appellant, referred to as 'the appellant', was granted leave to appeal to this Court from the decision of the Court of Appeal of the 8th June, 2015: [2015] IESCDET 45. The Director of Public Prosecutions, the prosecutor/respondent, is referred to as 'the DPP'.

2

The issues upon which leave to appeal was granted were:-

(i) Whether or not the appellant was, in the circumstances of this case, entitled to consult with a solicitor, and have a solicitor present, prior to and during the 15th interview with the Garda Síochána, during which admissions were alleged to have been made. This raises the question of whether the right to have a solicitor present during questioning is a matter of right of the detained person, or a matter of concession by the Garda Síochána.

I shall refer to this issue as 'the presence of a solicitor' issue.

(ii) Whether the appellant, in all the circumstances, including that he was convicted in the Central Criminal Court on the 15th February, 2012, and the decision of the Supreme Court in DPP v. Damache was delivered on the 23rd February, 2012, can rely on that decision on his appeal.

I shall refer to this issue as 'the Damache' issue.

(iii) Whether the matters set out in the appellant's application under the heading 'Relevant facts considered not to be in dispute', or any of them, constituted threats or inducements made to the appellant and calculated to extract a confession from him. This is a matter not decided by the Court of trial or the Court of Appeal. Secondly, if they do constitute such threats or inducements, whether their effect had 'dissipated' or 'worn off' by the time of the admissions relied upon by the State, as held by the trial judge; and whether or not there was any evidence on which it could have been determined that the effect of the said threats or inducements (if any) had 'dissipated' or 'worn off' by the time of the alleged admissions.

I shall refer to this as 'the threats and inducement' issues.

Factual Background
3

The factual background was stated in the judgment of the President of the Court of Appeal, delivered on the 8th June, 2015. Commencing at paragraph 7, Ryan P. held:-

'7. Two teams of two Gardaí each carried out the interrogation of the appellant. It was slow going at first because he was unwilling to engage with his interviewers. Their efforts were directed in the first instance at getting him to talk to them about himself and his relationships, including those with his children and with Victoria Gunnery. He was reluctant to engage with them but the Gardaí persisted. Mr. Doyle had brief consultations with a solicitor. All of the interviews were video-recorded.

8. The appellant's attitude changed at interview 15, which began at 19.42 on 26th February 2009. In the previous interview that concluded at 18.35, Mr. Doyle had asked to see his solicitor Mr. O'Donnell and the Gardaí told him that he was on his way. In due course, the solicitor arrived and spoke to his client. The solicitor then approached the Gardaí with an offer. Mr. Doyle would say that he killed Shane Geoghegan if the Gardaí agreed to release Victoria Gunnery. The deal on offer was that he would answer one question only, to confirm that he had killed the deceased. The Gardaí rejected the offer. They said that they wanted Mr. Doyle to tell the truth, that answering one question would not be satisfactory in any case because it would not enable the Gardaí to find out if he was telling the truth and there could be no deal because that would be an inducement which would make any admission inadmissible in court. Mr. O'Donnell returned to his client and had a further brief consultation.

9. Then interview 15 began, but it was interrupted after a few minutes by a phone call from the solicitor who wanted to speak with his client, which then happened. Thereafter, the interview recommenced. Mr. Doyle now answered the questions put to him regarding his role and confirmed that he was the person who shot Shane Geoghegan. He gave details of how he had waited for his victim, having been driven there by another person whom he did not name. He described the shooting, how it happened first on the green in front of the houses, how the gun jammed and he cleared it by ejecting the bullets, how he then resumed the pursuit by going around to the back of the house where he shot Mr. Geoghegan a number of times including once in the head from short range.

10. The Gardaí asked Mr. Doyle to draw them a map of the scene and he obliged, using writing materials the Gardaí provided. He showed the points that were relevant including where the car had been parked and which way it was facing, the direction that Mr. Geoghegan had come from, where he Mr. Doyle shot Mr. Geoghegan the first time, where he ejected the bullets to clear the gun mechanism and where he had gone round to the back of the house and finished off his victim. This information was important, as the prosecution alleged, because it included facts that the Gardaí did not know or were mistaken about.

11. At the termination of interview 15, after the tape was sealed, the Gardaí asked Mr. Doyle about his feelings for the Geoghegan family and he said he was sorry for them and in a gesture of sympathy he took off the rosary beads that he was wearing round his neck and said to give it to Shane...

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6 books & journal articles
  • Ireland: Curtailment of the right to silence through statutory adverse inferences
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    • New Journal of European Criminal Law Nbr. 12-3, September 2021
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    • Youth Justice Nbr. 18-3, December 2018
    • 1 December 2018
    ...a solicitor present during Garda interviews (Lavery v. Member in Charge, Carrickmacross Garda Station [1999] 2 I.R. 390; D.P.P. v. Doyle [2017] IESC 1). Due process rights under Article 38.1 of the Irish Constitution have, in the past, been inter-preted somewhat differently in relation to c......
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