CourtHigh Court
JudgeMr. Justice Quirke
Judgment Date18 January 2005
Neutral Citation[2005] IEHC 33
Date18 January 2005

[2005] IEHC 33


[No. 795 J.R./2002]
P (N) v DPP
N. P.



BARKER v WINGO 1972 407 US 514

B v DPP 1997 3 IR 190 1997 2 ILRM 118

C (P) v DPP 1999 2 IR 25


L (J) v DPP 2000 3 IR 122

O'C (J) v DPP 2000 3 IR 478



F (T) v DPP & JUDGE KENNY UNREP QUIRKE 18.1.2005 2005/24/5009 2005 IEHC 31

P (P) v DPP 2000 1 IR 403



Trial - Right to trial with reasonable expedition - Indecent assault - Complainant delay - Dominion - Prejudice - Whether applicant suffered specific prejudice -Whether delay inordinate and excessive -- C(P) v DPP [1999] 2 IR 25 followed - Hogan v President of the Circuit Court [1994] 2 IR 513 and O'Flynn v Clifford [1989] IR 524 distinguished - Prohibition granted - (2002/795JR - Quirke J - 18/1/2005) [2005] IEHC 33 P (N) v DPP

The applicant was charged with four counts of indecent assault relating to alleged events, which occurred in 1984. A complaint was made on behalf of the complainant to the Gardai in June 1984 and the complainant later reported the allegations to a number of people. However, the complainant did not make a formal statement to the Gardai until 2000 and the applicant was arrested in March 2001 and was charged in May 2001. The applicant was not returned for trial until July 2002. Consequently, the applicant sought by way of an application for judicial review an order of prohibition restraining the respondent from prosecuting the applicant in respect of the aforementioned charges.

Held by Quirke J. in granting the relief sought: That the unexplained delay of sixteen years and nine months between the date when the prosecuting authorities were first notified of the commission of the alleged offences and the date when the applicant was first interviewed in respect thereof gave rise to a clear inference that the applicant’s constitutionally protected right to a trial with reasonable expedition had been violated. Furthermore the violation of the applicant’s right to an expeditious trial was not referable to the conduct of the applicant himself.

Reporter: L.O’S.


JUDGMENT of the Honourable Mr. Justice Quirke delivered the 18th day of January, 2005.


By order of the High Court (O'Neill J.) dated 2nd December, 2002, the applicant was given leave to seek relief by way of judicial review including an order of prohibition restraining the respondent from prosecuting the applicant in respect of certain criminal offences allegedly committed by the applicant between the 1st January, 1984 and the 30th June, 1984.


The applicant was also given relief to seek certain additional declaratory and other reliefs ancillary to the substantive relief sought.


1. The applicant, who is now aged 73 years, has been charged with indecently assaulting one W.D. on four unknown dates between 1st January, 1984 and 30th June, 1984. All of the offences are alleged to have been committed at an address at Clontarf in the city of Dublin.


2. On an unknown date in 1984 W.D. complained to his natural mother Ms. V. S. of the offences. His mother informed Ms. Helena Sullivan who was a social worker employed by the Northern Area Health Board. Ms. Sullivan reported the allegations to Garda Sergeant Pat Cregg on 14th June, 1984.


3. Sergeant Cregg remains a member of An Garda Siochána. He now holds the rank of Chief Superintendent. Sergeant Cregg called to Ms. V.S. He took a statement from W.D.'s natural mother.


4. W.D. and his sister were brought to Temple St. Hospital shortly after Sergeant Cregg had been informed of the allegations. There they were examined by Professor O'Doherty who is now deceased. W.D. complained to his then foster parents B.D. and J.D. of the alleged offences some time in 1986 or 1987. As a result of this complaint B.D. contacted Ms. Margaret Beaumont who was a social worker with the Eastern Health Board. Ms. Beaumont arranged to have W.D. examined at the Rotunda Hospital. He was seen and examined there by Dr. Maura Woods.


5. On 20th April, 2000, W.D. made a formal statement of complaint to Det.


Garda Shay Woods at Santry Garda Station in Dublin.


6. Further statements were made by W.D. to Det. Garda Woods and on 4th September, 2001 and on the 4th June, 2002.


Having received the first complaint Det. Garda Woods conducted an investigation and interviewed various witnesses and made a series of inquiries before arresting the applicant at his home on 30th March, 2001.


7. On 17th August, 2001, Det. Garda Woods forwarded an investigation file to the office of the respondent who raised queries on the file. Garda Woods responded.


Further investigations were then conducted by Garda Woods and on 20th May, 2001, the applicant was again arrested and was charged with the four offences which are the subject of these proceedings. He was remanded on continuing bail to 16th July, 2002, when a Book of Evidence was served upon him and he was returned for trial to the Dublin Circuit Court.


8. Between 16th February, 1988 and 17th February, 1998, W.D. attended between ten and twenty sessions of professional counselling with a Ms. Sue Dromey who was a former social worker. He complained to Ms. Dromey of the alleged offences with which the applicant has been charged.


9. In 1997, W.D. complained to his then girlfriend Ms. F.D. of the offences allegedly committed by the applicant. He also advised Ms. D.Q. of these matters in February 1999 and a Jesuit priest Fr. Rory Halpin on another date which is unknown.


10. Some time in 1994 or 1995, Mr. D.S. made a complaint to the Gardaí at Clontarf Garda Station in relation to the applicant. The nature and the extent of the complaint was not adduced in evidence.


11. W.D. was born on 27th October, 1975. He was the eldest of three children, one of whom was murdered by their father and a girlfriend companion in December of 1981.


His family circumstances were tragic, his father was an alcoholic and his mother suffered from manic depression. She was regularly hospitalised as a consequence.


12. When he was three years old W.D. was taken into care by the Eastern Health Board. During the first half of 1979 he was fostered. When brought to England by his father in 1981 he was taken into care by the authorities in London. On return to Dublin he was taken into care by the Eastern Health Board and was again fostered with a family in Ballymun.


In September of 1983 he moved back to live with his mother and sister. His mother had many male acquaintances one of whom was an English national called G.S.


W. D. alleges that G.S. began to sexually abuse him in late 1983 and early 1984 and then brought him in his car to a house at Clontarf. He said he was there introduced to the applicant.


He says that the offences which are the subject of these proceedings occurred at the house at Clontarf during that and subsequent visits which he made to the house in the company of G.S.


In June of 1984, W. D. was taken into the care of the Eastern Health Board. He said he was not abused further after that time.


14. Within a short time after that he was fostered by B.D. and J.D. to whom he made a complaint about the offences.


Subsequently W. D. enjoyed the benefit of a settled family with Mr. and


Mrs. D. Later he completed a degree in mechanical engineering in Trinity College Dublin between 1993 and 1997 and a Masters in engineering in NUI Galway between 1997 and 1999. He commenced employment as a business consultant in 1999. In evidence he averred that he tried to put the abuse out of his mind and to get on with his life.


15. W.D. in evidence averred that in February or March of 2000 he met a Mr. D.S. who told him that the applicant was a paedophile. W.D. indicated that he was afraid that he would bump into the applicant since he was not living far from his then residence. He said that he was afraid that the applicant was still abusing children.


He made a statement of complaint to Det. Garda Shay Woods on 20th April, 2000. He made subsequent statements to the gardaí on 4th September, 2001 and 4th June, 2002.


16. W.D. was examined on 16th April, 2003, by Mr. Michael Dempsey who is a senior clinical psychologist at Hilltop Centre, Raheny, Dublin.


Mr. Dempsey prepared a psychological report which was adduced in evidence in these proceedings.


Mr. Dempsey referred to W.D.'s "…difficult and disruptive early childhood…". He described the disclosure by W.D. to his foster mother Mrs. B.D. and his subsequent examination in the Rotunda Hospital Dublin and his counselling with Ms. Sue Dromey. He requested and received copies of counselling notes made by Ms. Dromey.


Mr. Dempsey said that:

"…one factor that prohibited his reporting the alleged abuse to the Gardaí earlier was that his sister developed a severe and enduring mental health problem when she was 16 years and he reported that he had to deal with this at the time."


He also reported that:

"… he attended a counsellor at approximately 25 years of age for about nine months in relation to the alleged sexual abuse…"


Mr. Dempsey concluded that:

"In my opinion his delay in reporting the alleged abuse until relatively recently is reasonable in the light of his individual life circumstances. He wanted to get on with his life and put the past behind him. He was busy completing two university degrees. It was only after meeting Mr. S. in 2000 that he initiated the complaint to the Gardaí because his conversation with Mr. S. made him angry that the alleged abuse had...

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