DPP v Reddan

JurisdictionIreland
CourtCourt of Criminal Appeal
JudgeBlayney J.
Judgment Date04 December 1995
Neutral Citation1996 WJSC-CCA 879
Docket Number[C.C.A. Nos. 45 and 46 of 1994],45&46/94
Date04 December 1995
DPP v. REDDAN & HANNON
PEOPLE (DPP)
-v-
SUZANNE REDDAN AND DEBORAH HANNON
APPLICANTS

1996 WJSC-CCA 879

45&46/94

COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEAL

1

Judgment of the Court delivered 4th December 1995by Blayney J.

2

Conviction in Central Criminal Court for murder upheld — arguments re: alleged breach of Section 4 CJA 1994 & Regulations made thereunder, charge to jury re: intent and allegedly oppressive circumstances of jury in their deliberations rejected — while CCA accepted that prejudical passage in statement of Hannon (re: having spent time in prison) should not have been read out to jury, no re-trial directed — Section 3 of CPA 1993 applied.

3

Doc. No. 3444J(MB)

4

Judgment of the Court delivered on the 4th day of December1995by Blayney J.

5

The applicants were convicted in the Central Criminal Court on the 23rd March 1994 of having murdered Tracy Butler on the 12th July 1993 in the city of Limerick. Leave to appeal having beenrefused by the trial judge, both applicants applied to this Court for such leave. Their application was heard on the 27th and 28th July 1985 and judgment was reserved.

6

Both applicants were arrested on the 17th July 1993 and were detained under s. 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984. While being detained each made a detailed statement admitting that they had attacked and killed Tracy Butler. Most of the trial was taken up with deciding whether their statements should be admitted in evidence. The trial lasted sixteen days and the hearing concerning the statements occupied eleven of the sixteen days. The learned trial judge held that the statements should be admitted in evidence and one of the principal grounds of appeal is that he was wrong in doing so.

7

The circumstances in which Tracy Butler came to be killed are set out in detail in the two statements made by the applicants. Itappears that for a considerable time a dispute had existed between the Hannon family and the Butlers. Deborah Hannon's father Willy had been assaulted and so badly beaten on the 2nd July 1993 that he died two days later. Three of the Butlers, including Tracy, had been involved in this assault. Doborah Hannon felt so strongly about her father's death that she planned to kill one or other of the three Butlers. Suzanne Reddan had equally strong feelings about the Butlers. She was separated from her husband and was Willy Hannon's mistress. In spite of her relationship with Willy Hannon, she was on very good terms with his wife Theresa and with the whole Hannon family.

8

The attack on Tracy Butler was particularly brutal. The medical evidence was to the effect that she suffered forty-nine wounds of which fourteen were stab wounds, each of the applicants having been armed with aknife.

9

In addition to these details which appeared from the statements of the applicants there was other very relevant evidence. Deborah Hannon's mother, Theresa Hannon, stated in evidence that, on the night of the killing, when Deborah and Suzanne Reddan came back to her house, they had blood on their hands; that they took off all their clothes and put them in a plastic bag, and that she noticed a knife being put into the plastic bag also. And Deborah's sister Julie said that she had opened the door to Deborah and Suzanne when they returned on the night in question and that they had just run across her and into the kitchen. She asked them what had happened and they said that they stabbed Tracy.

10

In his charge to the jury the learned trial judge stated that the applicants "through their counsel without actually admitting it, they had indicated to you in the speeches which they have made and bythemanner in which they have made those speeches, that they are not contesting the evidence regarding the killing, the unlawful killing, and the fact that the accused people did it ... "and this statement was clearly accepted by both counsel as being correct as no requisition was raised in regard to it. Mr. MacEntee on behalf of Suzanne Reddan and Mr. Feehan on behalf of Deborah Hannon both delivered very full written submissions dealing with the grounds of appeal and developed them in the course of the hearing. While some of the grounds overlap, it is nonetheless necessary to deal with each of the appeals separately and the Court proposes to start with the appeal of SuzanneReddan.

11

Mr. MacEntee opened his case by stating that the appeal was limited to asking the Court to order a retrial on the question of whether manslaughter was adequately left to the jury. He contendedthat there should be a retrial on the issue of murder or manslaughter. He submitted that there were elements in Suzanne Reddan's statement which indicated a particular state of mind: that she had difficulty in making up her mind in having the necessary intent. But while this was Mr. MacEntee's overall submission it is clear from the detail of the grounds relied on that he was also seeking to upset the decision of the learned trial judge to admit his client's statement.

12

The first ground relied upon had three separate parts to it. It was submitted firstly that Suzanne Reddan was deprived of her constitutional right in respect of access to her solicitor; secondly, that there were serious irregularities regarding her detention because she was arrested under s. 18 of the Offences against the Person Act, 1861 rather than for murder, and finally, that there was a deliberate violation of the judge's rules. The Court is satisfied that thissubmission is not well-founded. There was undisputed evidence from Sergeant Mulvihill that he handed Ms. Reddan the document setting out her rights, and also explained to her the position in regard to them. The main criticism directed against his evidence was that he accepted that the explanation of her right to have a solicitor only took two minutes, but the Court is satisfied that such a period is ample to impart the information in question. As regards the arrest having been made under s. 18 of the 1861 Act, there is no doubt that the facts justified an arrest under that section and there could be no question of Ms. Reddan having been in any way misled by this as she accepted in cross-examination that she knew that she had been arrested in connection with the fatal stabbing of Tracy Butler. Finally, as to the deliberate violation of the judge's rules, there is no doubt that there was a failure to observe them during the first part of the interviewwhich Detective Garda McCarthy and Detective Garda O'Sullivan had with Ms. Reddan, and the trial judge found this to be the case. At that stage of the interview, no contemporaneous note was made of what Ms. Reddan said, which ought to have been done in order to comply with the judge's rules. The relevant note was not made until one hour after the interview concluded. Because the judge's rules had not been complied with, this note was properly ruled out by the trial judge. But this does not affect the admissibility of the statement made subsequently by Ms. Reddan which was taken down by Detective Garda McCarthy and signed by Ms. Reddan. In regard to this statement there was a complete compliance with the judge's rules.

13

The second ground on which Mr. MacEntee relied was that Ms. Reddan's statement should have been ruled out by the trial judge. It was submitted that the statement had been taken in breach ofRegulation 12(4) of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984(treatment of persons in custody in Garda Siochana stations) Regulations 1987 (S.I. No. 119 of 1987) and that the learned trial judge had been in error in holding that the questioning of Ms. Reddan had not been oppressive. Regulation 12(4) of the 1987 Regulations provides asfollows:

"If an interview has lasted for four hours, it shall be either terminated or adjourned for a reasonable time."

14

Ms. Reddan's custody record shows that at 2 p.m., when her interview had lasted for 4 hours, she was informed by Sergeant Connolly that she was entitled to a rest period from the interview if she wished. She declined the rest period and continued with her statement. When asked whether she had been told that she could have a rest period, she said she did not know if it had happened or not.

15

Sergeant Connolly gave evidence in accordance with what wasstated in the custody record and the Court is satisfied that Ms. Reddan was offered a rest period and declined to avail of it. There remains the question of whether she should have been allowed to waive availing of it since the regulation says that after four hours "the interview should be either terminated or adjourned for a reasonable time." In the view of the Court she should not have been allowed do this. If a waiver were permitted, a difficulty could then arise as to how long the interview should be allowed to continue thereafter. It would give rise to an uncertainty which it is always preferable to avoid. However, the fact that Ms. Reddan was permitted to waive the requirement and to continue with her statement does not in itself in the opinion of the Court make the statement inadmissible since s. 7(3) of the 1984 Act provides that "a failure on the part of any member of the Garda Siochana to observe any provision of the regulations shallnot ... of itself affect the lawfulness of the custody of the detained person or the admissibility of any statement made by him." In the circumstances the Court is satisfied that the failure of Sergeant Connolly to insist on the interview being adjourned, notwithstanding Ms. Reddan's wish to continue with it, did not have by itself the effect of making her statement inadmissible.

16

As regards the finding of the learned trial judge that the questioning of Ms. Reddan was not oppressive, there was ample evidence to support it and the Court is satisfied that the finding was correct. Accordingly, Ms. Reddan's second ground of appeal is also rejected.

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The third and fourth grounds are in fact a single ground of...

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