DPP v Gill

JurisdictionIreland
CourtSupreme Court
Judgment Date01 January 1980
Docket Number[S.C. No. 64 of 1978]
Date01 January 1980

Supreme Court

[S.C. No. 64 of 1978]
Director of Public Prosecutions v. Gill
The Director of Public Prosecutions
Complainant
and
Ronald Gill
Defendant

Cases mentioned in this report:—

1 R. (McDonnell) v. Justices of TyroneIR [1912] 2 I.R. 44.

2 In re Singer (No. 2)DLTR (1960) 98 I.L.T.R. 112.

3 Minister for Supplies v. ConnorIR [1945] I.R. 231.

4 Attorney General (McDonnell) v. HigginsIR [1964] I.R. 374.

5 The State (O'Callaghan) v. O hUadhaighIR [1977] I.R. 42.

Criminal law - Complaint - Time limit - Summary jurisdiction - Summons issued after expiration of time limit - Complainant not appearing on return day - Procedure - Adjournment - Rules of the District Court, 1948 (S.R. & O. No. 431 of 1948), rr. 64, 83 - Petty Sessions (Ireland) Act, 1851 (14 & 15 Vict. c. 93) s. 10, para. 4.

Appeal from the High Court

The facts have been summarised in the head-note and they appear in the judgment of Henchy J., infra. On the 20th September, 1977, District Justice James J. O'Sullivan stated a Case pursuant to s. 52 of the Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act, 1961, in which he sought the determination by the High Court of certain questions of law arising at the summary trial of the defendant on charges that on the 26th November, 1976, he had committed offences contrary to s. 53 of the Road Traffic Act, 1961, as amended, and contrary to s. 109 of that Act. The questions referred to the High Court by the Case Stated were as follows:—

"1. Whether, where a complaint has been made within the statutory period and criminal proceedings thereunder instituted and those proceedings are still existing and not disposed of,

  1. (a) fresh summonses in respect of the same alleged offence can be issued,

  2. (b) if they can be issued, can the issues be heard and determined by a Court notwithstanding the existing summonses,

  3. (c) such new summonses are to be regarded as re-issued summonses and referable back to the original complaint notwithstanding that more than six months has elapsed between the date of the alleged offence and the issuing of the new summonses."

Section 10, para. 4, of the Petty Sessions (Ir.) Act, 1851, states:— "In all cases of summary jurisdiction the complaint shall be made . . . and in any other case within six months from the time when the cause of complaint shall have arisen, but not otherwise." The repeal of s. 10, para. 4, of the Act of 1851 by s. 9 of the Statute of Limitations, 1957, does not affect summary proceedings of a criminal nature in the District Court.

The Case was heard by the High Court (Doyle J.) on the 11th and 12th January, 1978. In a reserved judgment delivered on the 30th January, 1978, the judge held that there had been a hearing of a complaint on the 7th June, 1977, and that the defendant should not have been brought before the District Court again to answer the same charge pursuant to a new complaint which was statute barred. On the 12th June, 1978, the judge gave the complainant leave to appeal to the Supreme Court pursuant to s. 52, sub-s. 2, of the Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act, 1961. The complainant appealed to the Supreme Court against the judgment and order of the High Court, and the appeal was heard on the 7th November, 1979.

Section 10, para. 4, of the Act of 1851 states that in all cases of summary jurisdiction the complaint shall be made "within six months from the time when the cause of complaint shall have arisen, but not otherwise." On the 7th June, 1977, the...

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