Menton v Director for Public Prosecutions

JudgeFinnegan P.
Judgment Date28 July 2006
Neutral Citation[2006] IEHC 234
CourtHigh Court
Docket Number[2005 No. 155 JR]
Date28 July 2006

[2006] IEHC 234


J.R. NO. 155/2005






BYRNE v DPP UNREP PEART 22.7.2005 2005/7/1424

DPP v ARTHURS 2000 2 ILRM 363

DPP v MCGLYNN 1967 IR 232




District Court - Summary jurisdiction - Applicant brought to trial two years and three months after alleged offence - Whether delay amounted to breach of right to trial with reasonable expedition - Whether judicial review appropriate remedy - The People(Attorney General) v McGlynn [1967] IR 232 and DPP v Special Criminal Court [1999] 1IR 60 followed; DPP v Arthurs [2000] 2 ILRM 363 distinguished - Relief refused(2005/155JR - Finnegan J - 28/7/2006)[2006] IEHC 234

Menton v DPP



Right to fair trial - Right to expeditious trial - Prosecutorial delay - Legal issue - Accidental injury to prosecuting garda - Whether delay culpable - Whether delay sufficient to justify prohibition of trial - Whether application should be made to trial judge - Byrne v DPP [2005] IEHC 243 [2005] 2 IR 310 and DPP v Arthurs [2002] ILRM 363 followed - Judicial review refused (2005/155JR - Finnegan P - 28/7/2006) [2006] IEHC 234

Menton v DPP

: The applicant sought an order restraining the respondent from prosecuting the applicant summarily in respect of an offence alleged to have been committed in 2003, contending that the delay was inordinate and inexcusable and in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003.

Held by Finnegan P. that having regard to the expeditious manner in which earlier stages of the proceedings had been dealt with, the occurrence of an accident to the prosecuting Garda, the nature of the evidence required in video footage, the culpable delay of 11 months was not sufficient to entitle the applicant to relief. Applications as to delay as here should only proceed by way of judicial review in exceptional circumstances.

Reporter: E.F.


Judgment of Finnegan P. delivered on the 28th day of July 2006 .


On this application the Applicant seeks an Order restraining the Respondent from prosecuting the Applicant in respect of an offence which he is alleged to have committed on the 7th March 2003. The Applicant was brought before the District Court on the 19th May 2003. On the 16th June 2003 the Respondent consented to the charge being disposed of summarily. Thereafter the matter was listed for hearing on a number of dates which I will detail hereunder but was ultimately listed for hearing on the 29th June 2005. On the 21st February 2005 the Applicant was granted leave to bring this application for judicial review on the following grounds —


1. At the proposed date for hearing there would have been a delay in excess of two years and three months in bringing the complaint to hearing which delay is inordinate, inexcusable and excessive and amounts to breach of the Applicant's constitutional rights to a fair trial in due course of law and/or trial with reasonable expedition.


2. The said delay amounts to a breach of the Applicant's rights pursuant to Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.


3. The said delay is well in excess of the period of time within which summary proceedings should be concluded.


The following is a chronology of relevant events:-

7th March 2003

The offence with which the Applicant is charged was committed.

19th May 2003

The Applicant was brought before the District Court on a charge sheet. The matter was adjourned to the 16th June 2003 to enable the Respondent to consider whether further charges should be brought against the Applicant and for the Respondent's directions.

16th June 2003

The Respondent consented to the charge being disposed of in a summary manner. The matter was adjourned to the 14th July 2003 to allow the Respondent to furnish to the Applicant a copy of the statement made by him while in custody.

14th July 2003

The District Judge accepted jurisdiction. A date for hearing was fixed for the 5th November 2003 in Court 46.

September 2003

The Applicant sought from the Respondent CCTV footage.

5th November 2003

The matter was adjourned to the 16th April 2004 Court 50 as the CCTV footage sought by the Applicant was not then available and Court 46 where the matter was listed for hearing did not have the necessary facilities to display CCTV footage. A copy of the CCTV footage obtained by the Respondent was furnished to the Applicant.

16th April 2004

The prosecuting Garda had not available the relevant custody record on this date and sought an adjournment. Solicitor for the Applicant informed the District Judge that the Applicant was looking for additional video footage which was not in the possession of the prosecuting Garda. As the CCTV footage was only sought in September 2003 the additional footage sought was not available. The Applicant further informed the District Judge that they had not received certain video stills which had been shown to the Applicant when in custody. The Applicant had been shown three video stills while in custody and these had been furnished. There were two further stills in possession of the prosecuting Garda which were not used during the Applicant's detention which had not been furnished but these were subsequently forwarded to the Applicant when requested. The owner of the vehicle the subject matter of the charge was in court on this date and on consent she gave evidence as to her ownership and lack of consent to use of the vehicle. The matter was adjourned to the 14th May 2004 so that issues in relation to disclosure could be dealt with.

14th May 2004

The District Judge who had embarked on the hearing was not sitting on this day and the matter was adjourned for mention in respect of the issue on disclosure to the 28th May 2004.

28th May 2004

On that day the District Judge had a long list and was unable to deal with the issue on disclosure and adjourned the issue for hearing to the 18th June 2004.

18th June 2004

Legal argument on the issue of disclosure was heard. The District Judge determined that he could not resolve the issue without viewing the video footage in the context of the hearing of the case. The matter was listed for hearing on the 6th September 2004.

6th September 2004

On this day the District Judge had listed before him his own list but also the list of another District Judge and there was insufficient time to hear this matter. The matter was adjourned for hearing to the 9th February 2005 and a half day of Court time was set aside for the purpose of hearing the same.

30th January 2005

The prosecuting Garda was injured in a road traffic accident while on duty. The Applicant was informed by fax and letter that in consequence she would be unavailable to attend the hearing on the 9th February 2005 and that an adjournment would be sought.

9th February 2005

The Respondent applied for an adjournment which application was granted a new date being given for hearing the 29th June 2005.

21st February 2005

The Applicant applied ex parte for leave to apply by way of an application for judicial review which application was granted.

The Law

In Byrne v The D.P.P. The High Court Unreported Peart J. 22nd July 2005 the facts are as follows. The offence with which the Applicant was charged was committed on the 3rd March 2003. The summons was issued on the 29th August 2003 with a return date of the 13th February 2004. The matter was adjourned to the 11th March 2004 and then to the 2nd April 2004 as video equipment would be required. It was given a date for hearing the 8th September 2004 and on that date the Judge was unable to hear the case as he was required to sit in another court and the matter was adjourned to the 3rd February 2005 when the same occurred and the matter was further put back for hearing to the 13th July 2005. The Applicant commenced Judicial Review proceedings seeking to prevent the trial going ahead on grounds of delay reliance being placed on D.P.P. v Arthurs (2000) I.L.R.M. 363 and system delay which would extend to two years four months by the new date fixed for hearing. The Applicant contended and it was accepted that no part of the delay was attributable to him. Peart J. held that there is a duty on the State, albeit a duty shared with the parties to the litigation, be it criminal or civil in nature, to ensure as far as practicable that matters are disposed of without unnecessary and blameworthy delay on the part of the authorities in a broad sense. In this case he was satisfied that the major part of the delay resulted from pressure of work placed on the District Judge on the day set for the hearing, a day on which half a day was set aside and on which special arrangements were made for the viewing of video evidence. Peart J. went on to say —

"It goes without saying that some allowance must be made for the imperfect world which the law and the administration of justice inhabits. It is as liable to the occasional mishap, human error, or accident as any other walk of life, and a reasonable allowance must...

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