J.D. v DPP

JurisdictionIreland
CourtHigh Court
JudgeMr. Justice O'Neill
Judgment Date19 January 2007
Neutral Citation[2007] IEHC 40,[2009] IEHC 48
Date19 January 2007

[2007] IEHC 40

THE HIGH COURT

[No. 1179 JR/2004]
D (J) v DPP

BETWEEN

J. D.
APPLICANT

AND

THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
RESPONDENT

H v DPP UNREP SUPREME MURRAY 31.7.2006 2006/27/5802

C (D) v DPP 2005 4 IR 281 2006 1 ILRM 348 2005 IESC 77 2005 8 1599

Abstract:

Criminal law - Delay - Sexual offences - Whether risk of unfair trial

This was an application for inter alia prohibition of the applicant’s trial on six charges of sexual offences alleged to have been committed between 1975 and 1985. The ground upon which the relief was sought was that of inordinate delay in the making of the complaint and further inordinate delay on the part of the prosecution authorities.

Held by O’Neill J. in refusing the application that the applicant had not demonstrated at all that there was specific or actual prejudice to his defence or any other exceptional circumstances which would expose him to an unfair trial.

Reporter: R.W.

1

Mr. Justice O'Neill delivered on the 19th day of January, 2007.

2

This is an application for prohibition of the applicant's trial on six charges of sexual offences alleged to have been committed between 1975 and 1985 or alternatively an injunction restraining the further prosecution of these charges. The ground upon which the relief is sought is that of inordinate delay in the making by the complainant of her complaints and further inordinate delay on the part of the prosecution authorities in the carriage of the prosecution, as a consequence of which it is claimed the applicant's defence has been grossly prejudiced such that he cannot now have a fair trial. The history of the proceedings is as follows:

3

The complainant made a statement of complaint on the 17 th February, 2003. On the 20 th November, 2003 the file was sent to the Director of Prosecutions. In February, 2004 queries by Director of Public Prosecutions were dealt with by the Gardaí.

4

On the 26 th March, 2004 the D.P.P. made a decision to prosecute.

5

On the 10 th June, 2004 the D.P.P. directed the content of charge.

6

On the 14 th June, 2004 the applicant was arrested and charged.

7

On the 7 th September, 2004 he was returned for trial to the Circuit Court.

8

Since the case of H. v. the Director of Public Prosecutions in which the Supreme Court delivered its judgment on the 31 st July, 2006 there has been a radical change in how cases of this kind are to be approached. It is no longer necessary or appropriate to enquire into the reasons for a delay by a complainant in reporting offences of this kind to the Gardaí because judicial notice can now be taken of these reasons. In the course of delivering his judgment Murray C. J. also said the following at page 29:

"There is no doubt that difficulties arise in defending a case many years after an event. However, the courts may not legislate, the courts may not take a policy decision that after a stated number of years an offence may not be prosecuted. Also as the Legislature has not itself established a statute of limitations that itself may be viewed as a policy of the representatives of the people. Thus each case falls to be considered on its own circumstances."

9

It necessarily follows from this, that what has hitherto been referred to as presumptive prejudice caused by the passage of time cannot of itself now be a ground for prohibiting a trial in relation to sexual offences. In this regard also the judgment of Denham J. in D.C. V. D.P.P. [2005] 4 I.R. 281 at 283 is of relevance where she says the following:

"Such an application for prohibition of a trial may only succeed in exceptional circumstances. The constitution and the state through legislation have given to the Director of Public Prosecutions...

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1 cases
  • U (M) v DPP
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    • High Court
    • 28 April 2010
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