Maguire v Governor of Mounjoy Prison

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeMr. Justice Mahon
Judgment Date04 July 2017
Neutral Citation[2017] IECA 142
Date04 July 2017
CourtCourt of Appeal (Ireland)
Docket NumberRECORD NO. 2016/328 RECORD NO. 2016/432 RECORD NO. 2016/564 RECORD NO. 2017/80 RECORD NO. 2017/81

[2017] IECA 142

THE COURT OF APPEAL

(CIVIL)

Mahon J.

Birmingham J.

Mahon J.

Edwards J.

RECORD NO. 2016/328

RECORD NO. 2016/432

RECORD NO. 2016/564

RECORD NO. 2017/80

RECORD NO. 2017/81

BETWEEN/
SANDRA MAGUIRE
FIRST APPELLANT
- AND -
GOVERNOR OF MOUNTJOY PRISON (THE DOCHAS CENTRE)
FIRST RESPONDENT
BETWEEN/
THOMAS BRENNAN
SECOND RESPONDENT
- AND –
GOVERNOR OF CASTLEREA PRISON
SECOND APPELLANT
BETWEEN/
MORUFU ADEMOLA ANIMASHAUN
THIRD APPELLANT
- AND –
GOVERNOR OF MOUNTJOY PRISON
THIRD RESPONDENT
- AND –
THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
NOTICE PARTY
BETWEEN/
NAPOLEON SILAGHI
FOURTH APPELLANT
- AND –
JUDGE JOHN O'HAGAN

AND

THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
FOURTH RESPONDENTS
BETWEEN/
LUCIAN MARINA
FIFTH APPELLANT
- AND –
JUDGE JOHN O'HAGAN

AND

THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
FIFTH RESPONDENTS

Criminal conviction – Committal warrant – Rehearing – Appellants seeking to appeal against judgments and orders of the High Court – Whether an appeal from a criminal conviction and/or a sentence in the District Court to the Circuit Court requires a full rehearing in the Circuit Court in circumstances where the appellant fails to appear, or for other reason does not prosecute his appeal

Facts: Appeals in unrelated cases were listed and heard together in the Court of Appeal for convenience as the issues for determination in each broadly fell into one, or both, of the following categories: (a) Whether an appeal from a criminal conviction and/or a sentence in the District Court to the Circuit Court requires a full rehearing in the Circuit Court in circumstances where the appellant fails to appear, or for other reason does not prosecute his appeal; (b) Whether the committal warrant issued by the Circuit Court following the imposition of, or affirmation of, a prison sentence in an appeal from the District Court need necessarily record that the Circuit Court judge considered making a Community Service Order prior to, or as an alternative to, the imposition of a prison sentence of twelve months or less, pursuant to s. 3 of the Criminal Justice (Community Service) (Amendment) Act 2011, and whether a committal warrant is invalidated because it omits a reference to the sentencing judge having considered the suitability of a Community Service Order prior to imposition of sentence. The background facts in each of the cases were different. With the exception of the cases of the fourth appellant, Mr Silaghi, and the fifth appellant, Mr Marina, which were heard together by one High Court judge, the cases of the first appellant, Ms Maguire, the second appellant, Mr Brennan, and the third appellant, Mr Animashaun, were heard on separate dates by different High Court judges.

Held by the Court that a Circuit Court judge is empowered to strike out an appeal from the District Court (against conviction or sentence as the case may be) and to affirm the decision of the District Court in circumstances where an appellant fails to turn up in court; such jurisdiction is subject to basic principles of justice and respect for the constitutional rights of an accused person which govern the proceedings and decisions of all courts. The Court held that in neither Maguire nor Brennan was there any evidence of unfairness or breach of constitutional rights in the manner in which those appeals were disposed of in the Circuit Court. The Court held that, having carefully considered the submissions of both parties in relation to the obligation under s. 3 (1) of the 2011 Act, there was no requirement to expressly state reasons for not imposing community service where the same was not sought or consented to. The Court held that, in the case of Brennan, the error on the face of the committal warrant, such as it was, did not invalidate the document. The Court therefore disagreed with the High Court judge and would hold that the warrant is valid.

The Court held that it would dismiss the appeals in the cases of Maguire, Animashaun, Silaghi and Marina, and would allow the appeal in the case of Brennan.

Appeal allowed in part.

JUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Mahon delivered on the 4th day of May 2017
1

Appeals in these unrelated cases were listed and heard together in this Court for convenience as the issues for determination in each broadly fall into one, or both, of the following categories:-

(A) Whether an appeal from a criminal conviction and / or a sentence in the District Court to the Circuit Court requires a full rehearing in the Circuit Court in circumstances where the appellant fails to appear, or for other reason does not prosecute his appeal.

(B) Whether the committal warrant issued by the Circuit Court following the imposition of, or affirmation of, a prison sentence in an appeal from the District Court need necessarily record that the Circuit Court judge considered making a Community Service Order prior to, or as an alternative to, the imposition of a prison sentence of twelve months or less, pursuant to s. 3 of the Criminal Justice (Community Service) (Amendment) Act 2011, and whether a committal warrant is invalidated because it omits a reference to the sentencing judge having considered the suitability of a Community Service Order prior to imposition of sentence.

2

The background facts in each of the cases are different. With the exception of the Silaghi and Marina cases which were heard together by one High Court judge, the cases of Maguire, Brennan and Animashaun were heard on separate dates by different High Court judges.

3

It is appropriate to briefly summarise the relevant facts, issues and the High Court judgments separately in each of the cases as follows:-

The Maguire case
4

Ms. Maguire, (the first appellant), was convicted in the District Court on the 11th September 2015 for an offence of stealing clothes valued at €23.50 from Penneys and was sentenced to three months imprisonment. She appealed her conviction to the Circuit Court and signed a recognisance in her own bond of €500 in relation thereto. Ms. Maguire appeared in the Circuit Court with counsel on the 16th October 2015. The case was adjourned to the 7th December 2015, whereupon Ms. Maguire's counsel indicated her client's intention to appeal against sentence only. The appeal was adjourned to the 11th January 2016. On that date, Ms. Maguire did not appear in court, although her counsel was present. The case was initially put to second call, and when Ms. Maguire was not present at second call her counsel sought an adjournment. The Circuit Court judge refused that application and proceeded to deal with the appeal by affirming the District Court order. No evidence of any nature was heard by the court.

5

A committal warrant issued in due course. It stated, inter alia, the following:-

‘AND WHEREAS on the hearing of an appeal by the said accused against the said order, the Circuit Court judge for the County and the City of Dublin on the 11th of January 2016 ordered as follows:-

No appearance, Strike out appeal. Affirm conviction and order of the District Court and ordered that the accused be imprisoned for a period of three months.’

6

Ms. Maguire unsuccessfully applied to the High Court for relief pursuant to Article 40.4.2 of the Constitution. She has appealed the judgment and order of the High Court to this court.

7

Essentially, Ms. Maguire maintains that:-

(i) the learned High Court judge erred in holding that the Circuit Court judge had jurisdiction to strike out the appeal and to affirm the custodial sentence imposed by the District Court without any hearing, and in her absence, and

(ii) the learned High Court judge erred in holding that the committal warrant dated the 12th January 2016 was a lawful basis for her detention, and

(iii) the learned High Court judge erred in holding that the ‘committal warrant after Appeal’ did not require, to constitute a lawful basis for detaining her, to recite that either the District Court judge or the Circuit Court judge considered community service as an alternative to the sentence of imprisonment imposed.

(iv) The learned trial judge erred in law in holding that the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court judge in the District Court Appeal hearing, where a custodial sentence had been imposed in the District Court, but where the appellant was absent when the appeal was listing for hearing, was limited to either issuing a Bench Warrant for the arrest of the appellant, adjourning the appeal or proceeding in the absence of the appellant.

(v) The learned trial judge erred in law in holding that there was an onus on the appellant to prosecute her appeal to the Circuit Court such that, in her absence, when her appeal was listed for hearing, the appeal did not require to proceed.

(vi) The learned trial judge erred in law in holding that the statutory provisions grounding the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court, in respect of appeals from the District Court in criminal matters, did not require the Court to hear the appeal if the appellant was not prepared to prosecute her appeal.

The Brennan case
8

Mr. Brennan, (the second respondent), was convicted on the 16th May 2016 at Galway District Court of a number of road traffic offences and was sentenced to a total of nine months imprisonment. He appealed his conviction to the Circuit Court. The appeal was listed in the Circuit Court on the 22nd July 2016. On that morning, fearing that he would be late for court, the second respondent contacted his solicitor who so advised the Circuit Court judge. The case was put back and called on a further two occasions. As the second respondent had not turned up by the third calling the Circuit Court judge struck out the appeal and affirmed the orders made in the District Court. No evidence of any nature was heard in the Circuit Court.

9

The relevant part of the post appeal committal warrants issued in respect of the separate appeals were...

To continue reading

Request your trial
1 cases

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