DPP v Meehan

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeMurray J.
Judgment Date23 January 2014
Neutral Citation[2014] IECCA 10
CourtCourt of Criminal Appeal
Date23 January 2014
Docket Number[190 CPA/10]

[2014] IECCA 10

THE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEAL

Murray, J., de Valera, J., McGovern, J.

[190 CPA/10]

IN THE MATTER OF AN APPLICATION PURSUANT TO SECTION 2 OF THE CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ACT, 1993

BETWEEN/
BRIAN MEEHAN
APPLICANT
AND
THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
RESPONDENT

Criminal procedure - Murder - Criminal Procedure Act 1993 - Miscarriage of justice - Excessive sentence - Newly discovered fact - Prima facie case - Application to dismiss

In these proceedings, the respondent, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), sought to dismiss an application brought by the applicant, Brian Meehan under section 2 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1993 (the 1993 Act) to quash his conviction and sentence for murder. Section 2 set out that where a convicted person claimed that a newly discovered fact showed that a miscarriage of justice occurred or that the sentence was excessive, an application to the Court to quash the conviction or review the sentence could be made.

The DPP, however, sought an order under section 5 of the 1993 Act dismissing the application on the ground that it there was no prima facie case that a miscarriage of justice occurred. The DPP also sought an order that certain issues arising out of the section 2 application be heard as 'preliminary issues in the case' before any disclosures were made in the applicant"s favour and before a hearing of the application on the merits was heard.

Held by Murray J., the application under section 5 was misconceived. Section 5 set out that a section 2 application could be referred to the Court for summary determination if it appeared to the registrar of the Court that the application did not disclose a prima facie case that a miscarriage of justice occurred. In these proceedings, the registrar of the court did not refer the applicant"s application to the Court. There was no indication that the registrar formed a view that the application did not disclose a prima facie case whatsoever. As this essential precondition of the section was not met, the application to dismiss under section 5 was refused.

The second order sought by the DPP was premised on its opinion that there was no 'newly discovered fact' and that the application was 'wholly without merit'. A 'newly discovered fact' under section 2 (4) of the 1993 Act, however, included a significant fact 'not new or newly discovered', which was not appreciated at the relevant time. The applicant argued that the relied upon facts met the scope of this subsection. The Court found that the range of issues the DPP wished to be treated as 'preliminary issues' encompassed 'virtually the full ambit' of the issues between the parties. Asking for this alternative to the application was perceived as asking the Court to depart from the normal procedure of hearing the application and determining its merits. The Court concluded that the DPP established no grounds for this alternative procedure.

The application of the DPP was therefore refused.

Murray J.
JUDGMENT of the Court delivered on the 23rd January, 2014 by Murray J.
1

This matter concerns an application by the respondent, the Director of Public Prosecutions by way of Notice of Motion seeking a dismissal of an application which has been brought by the above named applicant, Brian Meehan, pursuant to s.2 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1993.

2

The application which the DPP seeks to have dismissed, without waiting for a hearing on the merits, relates to what may be called the substantive proceedings in which the above named applicant, Brian Meehan, seeks an order of this Court pursuant to s. 2 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1993 quashing his conviction and sentence in 1999 for the offence of murder (for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment). That section permits a convicted person who claims that a new or newly discovered fact shows that there has been a miscarriage of justice in relation to the conviction, or that the sentence imposed is excessive, to apply to this Court for an order quashing the conviction or reviewing the sentence. It is an application which may be made notwithstanding that a convicted person may have previously unsuccessfully appealed to this Court. Such an application is to be treated by the Court for all purposes as an appeal to the Court against conviction and sentence.

3

In the ordinary course of events an application pursuant to s.2 of the Act of 1993 is heard and determined on its merits by this Court in the normal way. In this case the applicant has filed and served the statement of grounds for his application supported by affidavits sworn by him and on his behalf. In turn the DPP has filed and served his reply to the statement of grounds and also filed an affidavit in support of that reply.

4

Instead of addressing the issues arising in the substantive proceedings when the proceedings come on for hearing in the ordinary way the DPP has sought to pre-empt a hearing on the merits by seeking to have the applicant"s substantive application summarily dismissed at this stage.

5

As the Notice of Motion states, the DPP applies for an order pursuant to s.5 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1993 dismissing Brian Meehan"s application lodged pursuant to s.2 of that Act on the grounds that it does not disclose...

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2 cases
  • DPP v Buck
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 11 December 2015
    ...this Court in Joseph O'Reilly v DPP [2015] IECA 111. What is clear from the McKevitt case and also from the case of DPP v. Brian Meehan [2014] IECCA 10 is that it is a jurisdiction to be exercised sparingly. 8 In any event, the question of when it is appropriate to dismiss summarily is of......
  • DPP v O.R
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 2 March 2017

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