DPP v Ryan


[2014] IECC 1

The Circuit Court South Eastern Circuit Clonmel County of Tipperary

Record no. WDDP0072/2010

The People at the suit of the Director of Public Prosecutions
Michael Ryan

2012/0099CCDP - Sheehan - High - 6/2/2014 - 2014 IECC 1

Sentencing – Drug trafficking – Undue leniency – Applicant seeking review of sentences– Whether trial judge made an error in principle

Judge Thomas Teehan
Judgment of His Honour Judge Thomas Teehan delivered on 16th May 2014

This case proceeded before me and jury in Waterford between the 2nd and the 9th of July 2013. The accused was acquitted by the jury on all 3 counts. The accused who was not legally aided now seeks his costs of the hearing.


Prior to the trial, a section 4E application was made before me and there was an aborted trial before Judge McDonagh and a jury. No costs are sought in relation to either hearing.


The court has been referred to a number of decisions of the higher courts dealing with the issue of the granting of costs in criminal cases. It is not in issue that the following principles have been established:

• Costs are at the discretion of the trial judge;

• detailed reasons should be given for how that discretion is exercised;

• the exercise of such discretion in criminal cases does not mirror the position which obtains in civil cases (i.e. costs must follow the event unless the court, for special cause, to be mentioned in the order, should otherwise direct);

• nonetheless, the outcome of the case – acquittal – is the starting point of the court’s consideration of the issue (albeit far from being the only relevant factor), and so it is not a neutral factor.


Of the authorities which have been opened to me in the course of very helpful submissions from both sides, the case which provides most assistance is The People v Bourke Waste Removal Ltd and Others (a decision of the Court of Criminal Appeal chaired by Mr Justice Hardiman and delivered on 25 April 2012) [2012] IECCA 66. In the course of a very comprehensive judgement, Mr Justice Hardiman reviewed a number of decisions, and in particular the cases of Bell, Kelly, and McNicolas. Having done so, he set out 4 suggested tests which a trial judge might consider when dealing with the issue of costs. These are:

1. Was the prosecution warranted, both in regard to the matters set forth in the Book of Evidence, what actually transpired at the trial, and what responses were made by or on behalf of the defendants prior to the trial?

2. Had the prosecution conducted themselves unfairly or improperly in relation to the defendants, by oppressive questioning or otherwise, and had the prosecution been pursued with reasonable diligence and expedition?

3. What was the outcome of the prosecution? If an acquittal, was this on foot of a direction granted by the...

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