DPP v McNamara

 
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[2017] IESCDET 139

THE SUPREME COURT

DETERMINATION

O'Donnell J.

MacMenamin J.

Dunne J.

THE PEOPLE AT THE SUIT OF THE
THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
RESPONDENT
AND
CHRISTOPHER McNAMARA
APPLICANT
APPLICATION FOR LEAVE TO APPEAL TO WHICH ARTICLE 34.5.3° OF THE CONSTITUTION APPLIES
RESULT: The Court does not grant leave to appeal to this Court under Article 34.5.3 of the Constitution from the order of the Court of Appeal made on the 3rd March, 2017.
REASONS GIVEN:
Jurisdiction
1

This determination relates an application of the applicant in the underlying proceedings, Christopher McNamara, for leave to appeal under Article 34.5.3 of the Constitution, from a judgment of the Court of Appeal (Birmingham J., Mahon J., Edwards J.), delivered on the 3rd March, 2017.

2

As is clear from the terms of the Constitution, and many determinations made by this Court since the enactment of the 33rd Amendment, it is necessary, in order for this Court to grant leave, that it be established that the decision sought to be appealed against either involves a matter of general public importance or that it is otherwise in the interest of justice necessary that there should be an appeal to this Court.

3

The Court considers it desirable to point out that a determination of this Court on an application for leave, while it is final and conclusive so far as the parties are concerned, is a decision in relation to that application only. The issue is whether the questions raised, and the facts underpinning them, meet the constitutional criteria for leave. It will not, save in the rarest of circumstances, be appropriate to rely on a refusal of leave as having a precedential value in relation to the substantive issues in the context of a different case. Where leave is granted, any issue canvassed in the application will in due course be disposed of in the substantive decision of the Court.

The Appeal
4

On the 24th January, 2014, after a 10 day trial in the Central Criminal Court, the applicant, Christopher McNamara, was convicted of murder, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

5

The applicant was charged with the murder of James Boyce on the 7th March, 2011, at 150 St Munchin's Street, St Mary's Park, Limerick.

6

The prosecution case was that, on the evening of the murder, the applicant called at the home of the deceased, sometime around 8 p.m. He left after a period, but returned to the location around midnight. The evidence was that the applicant and the deceased were friendly, despite the fact that there was a significant age gap between them. The deceased was a man in his 70's who did not enjoy good health. The applicant was a young man. The applicant was a regular visitor to the home of the deceased.

7

As summarised by the judgment of the Court of Appeal (Birmingham J.), the background to this case was a robbery that went wrong. The deceased had saved certain sums of money. He lived frugally. He kept his savings at home. There was evidence that, after the murder, although a person of very limited means, the applicant had access to large sums in cash. The prosecution case was that these were the proceeds of the robbery.

8

The applicant pleaded not guilty at the outset of the trial. However, by the end, and after the defence closing speech, it was clear then, if not before, that the only issue in the case was whether the appropriate verdict was murder or manslaughter. Among the witness statements read to the jury was one by the applicant's mother, who stated that her son had admitted to her having been involved in Mr. Boyce's death.

9

At the trial there was some question about what precisely had been the cause of Mr. Boyce's death. The State Pathologist gave a description of the injuries, which confirmed that the deceased had been the object of an assault with an object with a long narrow striking edge. A brush head was found in the bedroom, which could have caused the traumatic injuries. There was, too, a question as to the deceased having previously had coronary difficulties.

10

But by the time of the...

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