Meagher v O'Leary

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeO'Flaherty J.
Judgment Date08 May 1998
Neutral Citation1998 WJSC-SC 10277
CourtSupreme Court
Docket Number(344/97),[1997 No.
Date08 May 1998

1998 WJSC-SC 10277

THE SUPREME COURT

Hamilton C.J.,

O'Flaherty J.,

Barrington J.,

Lynch J.,

Barron J.,

(344/97)
MEAGHER v. JUDGE O'LEARY, JUDGE PATTWELL, RUN FOR AGRICULTURE, FOOD & ATTORNEY GENERAL
AN CH ÚIRT UACHTARACH

BETWEEN:

JOHN MEAGHER
Applicant/Appellant
.V.
HIS HONOUR JUDGE SEAN O'LEARY, DISTRICT JUDGE MICHAEL PATTWELL, MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE AND FOOD AND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Respondents/Respondents

Citations:

MEAGHER V O'LEARY & MIN FOR AGRICULTURE 1998 1 ILRM 211

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (CONTROL OF OESTROGENIC ANDROGENIC GESTAGENIC & THYROSTATIC SUBSTANCES) REGS 1988 SI 218/1988

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (CONTROL OF VETERINARY MEDICINAL PRODUCTS & THEIR RESIDUES) REGS 1990 SI 171/1990

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES ACT 1972 S3(2)

MEAGHER V MIN FOR AGRICULTURE 1994 1 IR 329

MALLON V MIN FOR AGRICULTURE 1996 1 IR 517

CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT 1951 S5

CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT 1984 S12(1)

COURTS (NO 3) ACT 1986

ARCHBOLD CRIMINAL PLEADING EVIDENCE & PRACTICE (1997) PARA 1–135

Synopsis

Criminal Law

Sentencing; multiple charges; offences in question arose from same transaction; whether consequently Circuit Court judge not entitled to impose consecutive sentences; whether judge exceeded jurisdiction in imposing consecutive rather than concurrent sentences; whether in view of gravity of offences and absence of explanation by accused judge entitled to so impose Held: Appeal dismissed; offences separate Meagher v. O'Leary - Supreme Court: Hamilton C.J., O'Flaherty J., Barrington J., Lynch J., Barron J. - 08/05/1998 - [1998] 4 IR 44 - [1998] 2 ILRM 481

1

8th day of May, 1998, by O'Flaherty J. [NEM DISS]

2

This is an appeal brought by John Meagher from the judgment and order of the High Court (Moriarty J.) of the 8th October, 1997, [1998] 1 ILRM 211, refusing his application for an order of certiorari to quash the order of His Honour Judge O'Leary who had, effectively, imposed on him a sentence of 16 months imprisonment (including a consecutive sentence of eight months imprisonment) arising on District Court appeals which he had heard.

Background Facts
3

On 27th March, 1991, eight authorised officers of the Minister for Agriculture, together with two members of the garda siochana, executed a warrant to search Mr. Meagher's farm and premises near Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. As one of the officers, Declan Holmes, deposed a very large quantity of different prohibited substances designed wrongfully to help boost the weight of cattle were found at different locations on the premises of the appellant: in the hall press; hallway; in the kitchen; in the back bedroom; at a shed at the side of the house; in the sittingroom; in the bedroom of John Meagher junior; in a red Isuzu Gemini car, registration number 90 TS 1456; and also in a Ford Escort car, registration number 770 IP. In the boot of the Isuzi Gemini car there was found two separate one kilogram plastic bags containing a creamy white powder and one jar, or tub, of dark pink powder marked "QUS". Both were found on analysis to contain clenbuterol (also known as "angel dust"). The appellant was asked about the two items that were found in the boot of the motor car and his reply was that they were for his own use and that the officer was not entitled to take them.

Course of Proceedings
4

In due course the appellant was served with 20 separate summonses under the European Communities (Control of Oestrogenic, Androgenic, Gestagenic and Thyrostatic substances) Regulations 1988 (S.I. NO. 218/1988) and the European Communities (Control of Veterinary Medicinal Products and their Residues) Regulations 1990 (S.I. No. 171/1990).

5

It is at the heart of the appellant's case that all the summonses, consequent charges, convictions and sentences arose out of the same transaction and on the same set of facts; that the offences were committed at the one place on the same day, viz. possession by the appellant of illegal growth promoters or instruments for the administration of such illegal growth promoters.

6

The appellant challenged the validity of these regulations and the constitutionality of s.3(2) of the European Communities Act, 1972. In its decision of the 18th November, 1993, the Court allowed the appeal of the Attorney General against a High Court decision of a finding of unconstitutionality. See Meagher .v. Minister of Agriculture and Food [1994] 1 IR 329. Subsequent to that decision on April 6th, 1994, the appellant was convicted in the District Court by Judge Pattwell (the second named-respondent) in relation to the charges preferred against him (with the exception of two) and he was sentenced to a period of two years imprisonment on each charge, the sentences to run concurrently.

7

Following the decision of the Court in Mallon .v. Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry [1996] 1 IR 517 to the effect that the two year penalty provision contained in the 1990 regulations was unconstitutional, the matter came on for hearing on appeal before the learned Circuit Court judge, His Honour Judge O'Leary, on the 13th March, 1997. The appellant pleaded guilty to 11 numbered charges; appeals were allowed in relation to three charges. The appellant was sentenced to eight months imprisonment in respect of each of these 11 charges, the sentences to run concurrently. Three other charges were taken into consideration but in relation to charges numbered 490 and 491 (these concerned the substances that were found in the Isuzi motor car), he was...

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1 books & journal articles
  • The proportionality test: present problems
    • Ireland
    • Irish Judicial Studies Journal No. 1-8, January 2008
    • 1 January 2008
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