DPP v Morgan

JurisdictionIreland
CourtCourt of Appeal (Ireland)
JudgeMr. Justice Edwards
Judgment Date09 March 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] IECA 50
Docket NumberRecord No: 118/2012
Date09 March 2015
The People at the Suit of the Director of Public Prosecutions
Respondent
and
Martin Morgan
Appellant

[2015] IECA 50

Ryan J.

Sheehan J.

Edwards J.

Record No: 118/2012

THE COURT OF APPEAL

Murder – Life Imprisonment – Appeal – Judicial Error – Witness Testimony – Evidence – Practice and Procedures – Joint Enterprise – Hearsay – Admissibility – Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1997

Facts: In this case the applicant was convicted on the 15th March 2012 of the murder of Mr Lucasz Rzeszutko on the 4th October, 2010. The applicant was sentenced on the 30th March, 2012 and received the mandatory sentence for murder of life imprisonment, backdated to the 15th March, 2012. The applicant appealed against his conviction on a number of grounds. It was contended that his conviction was unsafe and unsatisfactory and he sought to have it set aside on the following grounds: (1) The learned trial judge had erred in law and in fact in finding that the search warrant, purportedly issued in accordance with s 10 of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1997 (as amended) relating to 22 Tonlegee Road, was lawful and valid; (2) The learned trial judge had erred in law in allowing the witness, Angela Whelan, to give hearsay evidence that was prejudicial to the accused thereby rendering his trial unfair; and (3) The learned trial judge erred in law in failing to accede to a Defence application to withdraw the case from the jury after the Prosecution had, in the course of the trial, accepted manslaughter pleas from the second and third named accused and in circumstances where the case had been opened on the basis of a joint enterprise being undertaken by all of the accused to murder, thus giving rise to the risk of confusion in the minds of the jury and their falling into error by presuming that as the appellant was still being prosecuted for murder that a manslaughter verdict was neither appropriate and/or was applicable to him.

Held by Justice Edwards in light of the available evidence and submissions presented that, in the circumstances where it had not been seen fit to uphold any of the grounds of appeal relied upon by the appellant, he would dismiss the appeal. In respects of the first grounds of appeal, it was accepted that the applicant had based that ground of appeal on the assertion that evidence obtained during a search was inadmissible by virtue of the fact that the warrant that purported to authorise it, issued pursuant to s 10 of the Act of 1997, was defective on its face and, as such, was invalid. The Court, however, determined that it was not disposed to uphold that ground of appeal. The Court was satisfied that there was prima facie evidence before the trial court to support the view that the warrant had been validly issued by a District Court Judge in accordance with s 10 of the Act of 1997, as substituted, and that it was duly executed and validly acted upon in accordance with its terms. In the Court”s view, the trial judge was correct to allow the fruits of the search to go before the jury as evidence. Turing to the second ground of appeal, the Court found that the argued premises upon which the hearsay ground was based were flawed. Finally, in respects of the third ground of appeal, it was determined by Justice Edwards that the trial”s charge concerning the non-application of the principles relating to joint enterprise to the case against the appellant was entirely clear and unambiguous. It was reasoned that there was no tenable basis for believing that the jury might have been confused. Consequently, the Court refused to uphold that ground of appeal.

Judgment of the Court delivered on the 9th day of March, 2015 by Mr. Justice Edwards
Introduction
1

This is a case in which the appellant was convicted on the 15th March, 2012 of the murder of Mr Lucasz Rzeszutko on the 4th October, 2010. The jury convicted the appellant by a 10:2 majority. The trial took place from the 27th February, 2012 until the 15th March, 2012.

2

The appellant was sentenced on the 30th March, 2012 and received the mandatory sentence for murder of life imprisonment, backdated to the 15th March, 2012.

3

The appellant was initially co-accused with two other persons, Stephen Byrne and Edward Byrne, respectively. All three were charged with murder. At the arraignment hearing on the 27th February, 2012, Edward Byrne pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter upon being arraigned, and that was accepted by the respondent. The other two accused, Stephen Byrne and the appellant, pleaded not guilty to murder. The trial then proceeded against Stephen Byrne and the appellant, and opened before the jury on the 28th February, 2012. On day three of the trial before the jury, the 2nd March, 2012, both Stephen Byrne and the appellant were re-arraigned at their request. Stephen Byrne pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter upon being re-arraigned, and that was accepted by the respondent. The appellant also pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter upon being re-arraigned. However, counsel for the respondent indicated that his client was not prepared to accept a plea to manslaughter in the appellant's case, and thereafter the trial proceeded against the appellant alone on the charge of murder.

4

The appellant now appeals against his conviction on a number of grounds.

Evidence before the jury
5

The jury heard evidence that at about 4:20 am on the 2nd October, 2012 Mr. Lukasz Rzeszutko was on his way to work at a fish processing facility in Newtown Industrial Estate in the Coolock area of Dublin. He was walking to work as he usually did, and he was alone.

6

Mr. Rzeszutko was a Polish national, aged 27, and had been living and working in Ireland for approximately 3 years.

7

At the same time, five people were in the vicinity, having been drinking heavily the previous day into the early hours of the next morning. These were Edward Byrne, Stephen Byrne, the appellant Martin Morgan, Angela Whelan and Lauren Mooney.

8

CCTV footage taken from a camera mounted on an adjacent business premises showed the victim approaching a crooked crossroads within the Newtown Industrial Estate and within the sight of this group. It showed Stephen Byrne approaching the man first, followed by the appellant and finally Edward Byrne. The CCTV did not show the assault itself, which occurred just off camera.

9

Lauren Mooney told the jury that Stephen Byrne walked over to ask the man for a cigarette and was joined shortly thereafter by the appellant. She then said that ‘it happened’, that they just started hitting him. Stephen Byrne hit the victim first and then the appellant did. The victim then fell and they kicked him while he was on the ground. She stated that he was being kicked in the stomach and the legs. Lauren Mooney later accepted that when she made a statement to the Gardaí in the early aftermath she had gone further and had said ‘Marto was really killing him, he was standing and whacking his foot off the man's head. I didn't want to look.’ Asked to explain why she had not mentioned that in her initial evidence to the jury, she said she just didn't remember. She did not suggest, however, that what she had said in her statement to the Gardaí had been untrue.

10

Lauren Mooney further stated that as the victim was being kicked by Stephen Byrne and by the appellant, Edward Byrne ran over to try to stop it. In the melee he received a blow to the jaw from the victim and he then turned on the victim and also kicked him. Edward Byrne then withdrew, followed by Stephen Byrne, and finally the appellant withdrew.

11

Angela Whelan told the jury that she recalled Stephen Byrne running over and hitting the victim a box or a dig in the side of the face, followed by the appellant hitting him a dig. The man was screaming and trying to run away but could not get away because Stephen Byrne was on one side of him and the appellant was on the other side of him, and both were blocking him. Edward Byrne then ran over to stop it and the man hit him a kick in the lip or burst his lip. She stated that Edward Byrne hit him two digs in the side of the arm and then withdrew. She herself was distressed and was crying at the time. After Edward Byrne withdrew he ran over to her and put his arm around her, and they proceeded across the road and stood at a little wall waiting for the others. They were joined by the others shortly afterwards.

12

The jury then heard the following evidence concerning what occurred as the group stood at the little wall:

Q. Now, when Stephen and Martin caught up with you at the wall, did you notice anything about them?

A. Yes, there was blood on Stephen's jumper, but he said it wasn't the man's blood, it was Adrian's blood. So, I just said all right. I didn't ask anything else more about it and I seen blood on Marto's runners and his clothes and

Q. Okay. And was there any talking then, at that stage, about what had gone on?

A. Yes.

Q. Well, what was being said?

A. Well, I like, I was screaming, like, what happened and all and Stephen was, like, I don't know, we just hit him, and all. Stephen was, like, I think he's dead and all and I was, like, don't say that. And Marto was, like, I don't think we killed him, I don't know what like, I don't really remember.

Q. Okay?

A. Just that bit really.

Q. Well, that's okay, Angela. Just take it slowly for me. When Stephen and Martin were saying this, do you remember Stephen saying anything about what he had done?

A. Yes.

Q. Well, what was that?

A. That he hit him two boots or two digs and one boot.

Q. Okay?

A. And

Q. And what sorry, you were going to add something, I beg your pardon, I'm after doing it again, I interrupted you?

A. And Marto said that he stood on his head and was standing on his head and all and

Q. Okay?

A. And then...

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3 cases
  • DPP v Patrick Quirke
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 16 November 2021
    ...the warrant would be invalid. That is not the situation which presented itself in the instant case. In The People (DPP) v. Martin Morgan [2015] IECA 50, Edwards J. stated at paragraph 51 onwards: “The Court accepts the submission of the respondent to the effect that a failure to state expre......
  • Mulligan v DPP
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 18 February 2016
    ......That mobile phone was clearly the main object of their search of the appellant's home. In the course of the search, the appellant's computer equipment was seized. . 30 In the case of DPP v. Morgan [2015] IECA 50 , this Court considered a ground of appeal broadly similar to that (in relation to the search warrant) which arises in this case. In the Morgan case, the appellant asserted that the warrant was defective on its face and therefore invalid, on the basis that the warrant did not ......
  • Mujahid v Carroll
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 31 March 2017
    ...in People (DPP) v. McCarthy [2010] IECCA 89 are also relied upon. 9 The applicants further rely on the decision in People (DPP) v. Morgan [2015] IECA 50 in arguing that it ought to be clear when examining a warrant that the suspected offence is an arrestable one, so that the impacted party ......

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