DPP v P.J.

JudgeMcGuinness J.
Judgment Date31 July 2003
Neutral Citation2003 WJSC-CCA 3710
CourtCourt of Criminal Appeal
Docket Number[C.C.A. No. 90 of 2001]
Date31 July 2003

2003 WJSC-CCA 3710


McGuinness J.

ÓCaoimh J.

McKechnie J.

DPP v. J (P)




P. J.





R V PUDDICK 1865 4 F & F 497



R V LAWRENCE 1982 AC 510

R V LANDY 1981 1 WLR 355



DPP V REID 1993 2 IR 186

AG V CRADDEN 1955 IR 130



AG V TRAVERS 1956 IR 110


O'R (E) V DPP & SHEEHY 1996 2 ILRM 128 1996/7/2102

O'R (D) V DPP 1997 2 IR 273

B V DPP 1997 3 IR 140

M (S) V DPP UNREP MCGUINNESS 20.12.1999 1999/16/4903

O'C (P) V DPP 2000 3 IR 87

L (J) V DPP 2000 3 IR 122

DPP V B (R) UNREP CCA 12.2.2003





Charge to jury - Defects - Corroboration warning - Whether adequate - Delay - Whether warning in relation to delay in prosecution of offence adequate - Whether applicant afforded trial in due course of law (90/2001 - Court of Criminal Appeal - 31/7/2003

People (DPP) v J (P) - [2003] 3 IR 550 - [2004] 1 ILRM 220

the applicant had been convicted by a jury in the Central Criminal Court of rape. The complainant did not make complaint to the gardai until 25 years after the alleged offences.

The applicant appealed his conviction on the following grounds: the prejudicial nature of the closing speech of the prosecution counsel and the failure of the trial judge to correct this prejudice in his charge to the jury; a number of alleged defects in the judge's charge to the jury, including a failure to give a full corroboration warning and a failure to deal properly with the issue of delay in the case; the failure of the prosecution to seek out and disclose the available report of a child psychiatrist which was subsequently produced at the sentencing hearing.

Held by the Court of Criminal Appeal in quashing the applicant's conviction and ordering a re-trial that 1. Once a trial judge has elected to give a warning that warning should be clear and unmistakable. In giving the warning the judge should also explain the meaning of corroboration which is independent evidence of material circumstances tending to implicate the accused in the commission of the crime with which he was charged. The wording used by the trial judge in the instant case was not calculated to convey any clear message to the jury nor was it explained in detail how a lack of corroboration may affect the jury's view of the evidence;

2. trial judges were obliged to issue appropriate directions and rulings to avoid the possible prejudicial effect of delay in sexual abuse cases. The trial judge should deal reasonably and fully with the various aspects of the problems caused by delay in the making of a complaint of this nature, i.e. sexual abuse;

3. that the issues of corroboration and delay were distinct and separate and had to be clearly separated and distinguished in a judge's charge to a jury;

4. that the warnings given by the trial judge in relation to corroboration and delay were insufficient.

Obiter dictum: The role of prosecuting counsel was that they ought to regard themselves as ministers of justice and not to struggle for a conviction.


Judgment of the Court delivered the 31st day of July 2003 by McGuinness J.


The applicant appeared before the Central Criminal Court on the 19th day of February 2001 charged with three counts of rape, contrary to section 2 of the Criminal Law (Rape) Act 1981, and seven counts of indecent assault contrary to common law and as provided for in section 6 of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 1935. The counts of rape related to the years 1976, 1977 and 1978. The counts relating to indecent assault related to each year from 1973 to 1979. The complainant in regard to all the counts was the applicant's niece, R.L.


The applicant was convicted by a jury on the 25th day of February 2001 of the three counts of rape and of five of the counts of indecent assault. The jury failed to reach a verdict in relation to the counts of indecent assault which were alleged to have taken place in 1973 and 1974.


The applicant was sentenced on the 4th May 2001 to three years imprisonment on each of the three counts of rape and to one year's imprisonment on each of the five counts of indecent assault, all sentences to run concurrently. The operation of the sentences was deferred by the learned trial judge in order to allow the applicant to pursue an application to this Court. The applicant has been on bail since the date of trial, pending the hearing of this appeal.


The date of birth of the applicant is the 12 th December 1959 and the date of birth of the complainant is the 26 th February 1969. The counts on the indictment, therefore, spanned a time period when the complainant was aged four years old to ten years old and the applicant was aged thirteen years old to twenty years old. All the incidents complained of were to said to have taken place at the home of the applicant in the City of Dublin where he resided with his mother Mrs J. who was generally known within the family as Granny M. Mrs J. had eleven children and during the period of the various offences a number of the applicant's brothers and sisters were also resident in the family home which was a small local authority dwelling. The mother of the complainant was the applicant's elder sister, Mrs P. L., who lived a short distance away with her husband and children. It was accepted that Mrs P. L. was employed outside the home for part of the day. She was very close to her mother and on many occasions brought her children to her mother's family home. The complainant's mother Mrs P. L. died young of cancer in or about the year 1983 when the complainant was fourteen years of age. A few months after her mother's death the complainant moved to the J's family home to live with her grandmother and her aunts and uncles. It appears from the evidence given at the trial that the family relationship between the complainant's father, Mr L. and the J. family deteriorated very considerably after the death of P. L. The evidence was that this family disagreement began when Mr L. removed from his wife's grave a tombstone in the form of a marble prayer book which had been put there by Granny M. J. but it appears that there had been increasing bad blood between the families over a considerable period of time. Mrs J., senior, (Granny M.) died in 1997.


The complainant made her first complaint concerning the applicant to the Gardai in 1998. She stated in evidence that she had begun to receive counselling from the Rape Crisis Centre in 1990 but had been told by her counsellor that she was not yet ready to make a complaint and bring a case. However a letter was produced in Court which indicated that she had in fact first made contact with the Rape Crisis Centre in 1992. In addition in reply to cross-examination the complainant indicated that in about 1982 or 1983 her grandmother and her aunts, and possibly her mother, were aware that she had been abused by the applicant, had discussed the matter in a family meeting, and had urged her to accuse her father of the abuse. It also transpired in cross-examination that at about the same time the complainant had suffered from depression and had been under the care of a child psychiatrist, a Doctor Cotter of St. James's Hospital. The complainant's evidence was that she had not spoken to Dr. Cotter of her abuse because she was afraid that if she did her father would be blamed for it. No evidence whether oral or written of the complainant's treatment by Dr. Cotter was brought by the prosecution.


The prosecution relied on the uncorroborated evidence of the complainant together with exculpatory answers to questions by the applicant during the course of his detention pursuant to section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984. The applicant gave evidence in his own defence and also called in evidence three of his sisters and a Mr J. O'C. who had employed the applicant's mother, Mrs J., senior, as an office cleaner from 1975 onwards.

The Trial

The course and timing of the trial was somewhat unusual. This in itself gave rise to difficulties. In order to follow the arguments concerning the various grounds of appeal it is necessary to describe the course of the trial in some detail.


The prosecution evidence lasted for approximately a day and a half, on 19 th and 20 th February. At the close of the prosecution evidence counsel for the Applicant applied for a direction. This was refused by the learned judge at approximately 3.30 on the afternoon of the 20 th. The defence case then opened briefly. On the morning of the 21 st the foreman of the jury explained that he had realised that he was well acquainted with one of the sisters of the accused, who was to be a witness at the trial. As a result of this the foreman was excused from further service, a new foreman was selected and the trial continued. The defence case concluded at 3.40 p.m. on 22nd February. Counsel for the prosecution then made an application to the trial judge concerning a corroboration warning and there was a discussion between counsel and the trial judge both in regard to corroboration and in regard to the question of delay. It will be necessary to refer to this discussion later.


On February 23 rd, which was a Friday, the learned trial judge ruled that he would give a corroboration warning in the course of his charge to the jury. Prosecution counsel then made his closing speech to the jury which concluded at 12.20 p.m. The jury were...

To continue reading

Request your trial
24 cases
  • DPP v Prior
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 24 November 2016
    ...perspective before the jury albeit forcibly, but in the Court’s view properly. The Court contrasted the situation with that of DPP v PJ [2003] 3 IR 550 where it appeared that counsel’s speech was inflammatory and indeed improper. Therefore, the Court held that the criticisms made of the tri......
  • DPP v M.K.
    • Ireland
    • Court of Criminal Appeal
    • 19 July 2005
    ...THE PERSON 322 DPP v REID 1993 2 IR 186 1991 ILT 111 KING v BASKERVILLE 1916 2 KB 658 AG, PEOPLE v TRAYERS 1956 IR 110 DPP v J (P) 2003 3 IR 550 2004 1 ILRM 220 CRIMINAL LAW Sexual offence Corroboration warning - Trial - Charge to jury - Whether adequate corroboration warning given - Abs......
  • S(J) v DPP
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 2 April 2004
  • DPP v Cooke
    • Ireland
    • Court of Criminal Appeal
    • 11 May 2009
    ...IECCA 69 DPP v B (R) UNREP CCA 12.2.2003 2003/13/2871 DPP v CRONIN 2006 2 ILRM 401 DPP v CC UNREP CCA 2.2.2006 2006 IECCA 1 DPP v P (J) 2003 3 IR 550 CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT 1993 S3(A) Abstract: Criminal law - Appeal - Evidence - Application to adduce new evidence at appeal - Principles to be......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • Indexes
    • United Kingdom
    • Sage International Journal of Evidence & Proof, The No. 18-4, October 2014
    • 1 October 2014
    ...93. . . . . . . . . . . 50People (DPP) v O’Connor, unreported, 29 July2002, Courtof Criminal Appeal. . . . . . . . . . 46People (DPP)v PJ [2003]3 IR 550 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50People (DPP) v Slavotic, unreported, 18November 2002, Court of Criminal Appeal 46People (DPP) v Wallace, unrep......
  • Exploring rape conviction rates: consent, false allegations and legal obstacles
    • Ireland
    • Irish Judicial Studies Journal No. 2-20, July 2020
    • 1 July 2020
    ...‘Corroboration is not required’ (The Hill 10 March 2018) accessed 17 August 2020. 50 For use of the warning see The People (DPP) v PJ [2003] 3 IR 550 and The People (DPP) v Gentleman [2003] 4 IR 22. 51 [1995] 7 JIC 2801, [30]. See also The People (DPP) v Reid [1993] 2 IR 186, 197 for statem......
  • The Corroboration Warning in Sexual Offence Trials: Final Vestige of the Historic Suspicion of Sexual Offence Complainants or a Necessary Protection for Defendants?
    • United Kingdom
    • Sage International Journal of Evidence & Proof, The No. 18-1, January 2014
    • 1 January 2014
    ...corroboration.46 Fennell points to the case of 40 R v Makanjuola; R v Easton [1995] 3 All ER 730 at 733.41 Ibid.42 People (DPP) v PJ [2003] 3 IR 550.43 [2005] IECCA 93.44 [2005] IECCA 93 at para. 31.45 [1916] 2 KB 658. Lord Reading CJ defined corroboration … independent testimony which affe......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT