Man jailed for life as judge dismisses privacy objections linked to Dwyer ruling

Published date09 July 2022
Publication titleIrish Times (Dublin, Ireland)
Mr Justice Tony Hunt said the right to privacy cannot extend to participation in criminal activity, is not absolute and must be balanced with the rights of others and the requirements "of the common good"

He said a right under European law should be considered in "precisely" the same way that a right under Irish law would be considered and does not become "a clove of garlic guaranteed to ward off all domestic vampires".

Mr Justice Hunt was asked to rule on the use of mobile phone data in the trial of Wayne Cooney, who was convicted on Tuesday of murdering Jordan Davis (22) on a lane-way beside Our Lady of Immaculate National School in Darndale, Dublin on May 22nd, 2019.

Cooney (31), of Glenshane Drive, Tallaght, was also found guilty of possessing a 9mm semi-automatic pistol and ammunition in circumstances that give rise to the reasonable inference that he did not have them for lawful purposes on the same date at the same location.

Mr Justice Hunt sentenced him to the mandatory term of life for murder, saying that he is "obviously an extremely dangerous individual".

Earlier this year, the CJEU ruled in favour of murderer Dwyer in his challenge to a 2011 law that required phone companies to keep data relating to calls, texts and the location of mobile phones for two years.

Gardaí investigating serious crimes have accessed that data to discover who suspected criminals were communicating with and to find out the general location of phones at relevant times. Mr Justice Hunt's ruling is not binding on other judges but it is the first indication of how Irish courts could interpret the European ruling.

Mobile phone data

The judge said it would not be appropriate for him to comment on the European court's approach, "save to say it exhibits a strange and unusual set of priorities". He said there is no evidence for the court's finding that mobile phone data would "possibly reveal a significant amount of the private life of the person concerned," a view which he said is "not universally held outside the membership of the Court of Justice".

Having concluded that the breach of Cooney's privacy right under European law has no more weight than a breach of privacy rights under the Irish...

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