Dunne v Clinton

CourtHigh Court (Irish Free State)
Judgment Date28 May 1930
Date28 May 1930
Dunne v. Clinton.
PATRICK CLINTON, Chief Superintendent of the Civic Guard, County of Kerry
same Defendant (1)

High Court

False imprisonment - Person suspected of a crime - Detention by Civic Guards without formal arrest - Legality of procedure - Duty of Civic Guards - Person suspected to be brought before a Peace Commissioner as soon as reasonably possible - Liability of Civic Guards - Damages.

A felony having been committed, a Civic Guard requested the two plaintiffs, whom he suspected of complicity in the crime, to go to the Civic Guards' Barracks, which the plaintiffs voluntarily did. When they reached the barracks they were questioned by the defendant, the Chief Superintendent of the Civic Guards for the county, and were then detained in the barracks while the Guards were endeavouring to procure evidence. They were not charged with any crime, nor were they formally arrested. They were detained in the barracks from an early hour of the morning of one day until the evening of the following day, when, in consequence of a letter of complaint from their solicitor, they were formally arrested and charged with the crime and brought before a Peace Commissioner, who remanded them on bail to the next District Court. At that Court the charge was dismissed. It was admitted that the plaintiffs could have been brought before a Peace Commissioner on either of the two days during which they were detained. Each of the plaintiffs then brought a civil bill against the defendant for damages for false imprisonment. The Circuit Court Judge gave a decree in favour of one of the plaintiffs, and dismissed the other civil bill. On appeal to the High Court:

Held that the detention of the plaintiffs amounted in law to imprisonment, as it was a total restraint of their liberty imposed on them by the action of the Guards.

Held also that it was the duty of the defendant, as the officer responsible for such detention, to have brought the plaintiffs before a Peace Commissioner as soon as he reasonably could. Accordingly, as he did not do so, he was liable to the plaintiffs in damages in respect of the period that elapsed between the time when the defendant could reasonably have brought the plaintiffs before a Peace Commissioner and the time when he in fact did so.

Wright v. Court, 4 B. & C. 596, and observations of Gibson J. in R. (Rea) v. Davison, [1913] 2 I.R., at p. 360, applied.

Two Appeals from the Circuit Court which were heard together.

The two plaintiffs, John Dunne and William Dunne, were brothers, and each brought a civil bill against the defendant, Patrick Clinton, Chief Superintendent of the Civic Guard, County Kerry, for damages for false imprisonment and trespass. The Circuit Court Judge gave John Dunne a decree for £2, but he dismissed the civil bill brought by William Dunne.

The defendant appealed from the decree of £2 in favour of John Dunne, and the plaintiff, William Dunne, appealed from the dismissal of his civil bill.

The facts have been summarized in the head-note, and are fully stated in the judgment of Sullivan P.

As regards the dismissal of the civil bill brought by William Dunne, the Circuit Court Judge dismissed it at the close of the plaintiff's case on the ground that there was no evidence to prove that the defendant was responsible for the plaintiff's detention. The plaintiff contested this view on his appeal to the High Court, the grounds of his appeal being as follows:— 1, that the said dismiss was against the evidence and the weight of the evidence; 2, that it was erroneous in law and in fact, and the Circuit Court Judge misdirected himself in both law and fact; 3, that the Circuit Court Judge dismissed the plaintiff's civil bill without taking any account of the evidence given in a similar action brought by John Dunne against the same defendant, though it was agreed that both actions should be heard together; 4, that the Circuit Court Judge was wrong in holding that there was no evidence connecting the defendant with the detention and false imprisonment of the plaintiff; and 5, that the Circuit Court Judge refused to hear counsel for the plaintiff on the above facts.

Cur. adv. vult.

Sullivan P.:—

The plaintiff, John Dunne, is an electrician and collector in the employment of the Listowel Electric Light and Power Company. On Monday, January 28th, 1929, a sum of £84 odd, which he had collected on behalf of his employers, and which, according to his own account, he had left on the previous day in a press in the power station, was missing. He went to the Civic Guard Barracks in Listowel on the Monday, and gave a statement to the guards. He then returned to his work at the power station, and remained on duty until evening, when he returned home. In consequence of a message he received from a Civic Guard he went back to the barracks at about midnight. He was there questioned by the defendant and other officers of the guards, and, when the interrogation had ended, he was detained in the barracks. He remained in detention until 9 p.m. on the following Wednesday, when he was formally arrested, and charged with breaking into the power house and stealing £84, brought before a Peace Commissioner on that charge, and remanded on bail. On the 16th February he appeared before a District Justice to answer the charge, and the charge was dismissed.

The defendant took full responsibility for the detention of the plaintiff in the barracks. He satisfied the Circuit Judge that a felony had been committed, and that he had reasonable grounds for suspecting that the plaintiff was one of the parties guilty of the felony. He did not deny that he could have brought the plaintiff before a Peace Commissioner in Listowel on Tuesday, the 29th January, but he stated that the reason he did not do so was that the Listowel guards were engaged practically all the time from the Monday until the Wednesday evening in investigating the crime, and endeavouring to procure evidence. The Circuit Judge held that such...

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50 cases
  • People v Shaw
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 1 January 1982
    ...to this rule provided which appears in the Offences Against the State Act 1939has no relevance to the present case. Dunne v. Clinton 1930 I.R. 366; (and Sup. Ct. unreported); A.G. v. Cox(CCA. 294.1929 unreported); People v. O'Loughlin 1979I.R. 85; People v. Walsh (supra); A.G. v. Higgins 1......
  • People v Shaw
    • Ireland
    • Court of Criminal Appeal
    • 22 May 1979
    ...Commissioner or District Justice during the night. This Court agreed with this conclusion. The authorities such as Dunne .v. Clinton ( 1930 I.R. 366) go no further than requiring a person detained to be brought before a Peace Commissioner or District Justice as soon as can reasonably be do......
  • DPP v Walsh
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 17 January 1980
    ...not done invalidate what otherwise was lawful? This, it seems to me, was one of the problems considered and decided in Dunne v. Clinton 1930 I.R.366. This decision has, for almost fifty years, been rightly regarded in out Courts as the leading authority on arrest at common law. It came bef......
  • DPP (at the suit of Garda Cheryl Kelly) v Robin Fox
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 22 July 2008
    ...- Whether evidence obtained during detention admissible - DPP v Finn [2003] 1 IR 372, DPP v McNiece [2003] 2 IR 614, Dunne v Clinton [1930] IR 366 and The People v Walsh [1980] IR 294 considered - Road Traffic Act 1961 (No 24), s 50(4) and (6)(a) - Road Traffic Act 1994 (No 7), s 11 - Pro......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • Courts of Appeal
    • United Kingdom
    • Journal of Criminal Law, The Nbr. 44-1, February 1980
    • 1 February 1980
    ...in good company -that of the CourtofAppeal.Lawton L.J.'s dictum is in keeping with the opinions expressed byHanna J. in Dunn v. Clinton [1930] I.R. 366, by Stephenson L.J. inR. v. Inwood [1973] I W.L.R. 647; [1973] 37 J.C.L. 256 andViscount Dilhorne in Spencer v. Holt (1976] 63 Cr. App. Rep......
  • The criminal justice act, 2006: a crushing defeat for due process values?
    • Ireland
    • Irish Judicial Studies Journal Nbr. 1-7, January 2007
    • 1 January 2007
    ...would be done openly in the public courtroom under the 2For example, Offences Against the State Act, 1939-1998, s.30. 3 Dunne v. Clinton [1930] I.R. 366 (H.C.). _____________________________________________________ Judicial Studies Institute Journal [2007:1 46 supervision of an independent ......

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