People v Paul Ward

JudgeMr. Justice Barr
Judgment Date23 October 1998
Neutral Citation1998 WJSC-SCC 13540
CourtSpecial Criminal Court (Ireland)
Date23 October 1998

1998 WJSC-SCC 13540


Barr J.

Smyth J.

Ballagh J.




CRAMPTON, IN RE 1991 92 CAR 369

SHAW V DPP 1982 IR 1




Criminal law - Powers of arrest - Detention - Voir dire - Fairness of procedures - Admissibility of statements - Accused given one dose of medication while in custody - Whether original arrest lawful - Whether arresting Garda had bona fide suspicion that offence committed by accused - Whether accused should have been given further medication while detained - Whether absence of further medication rendered accused unfit for interview - Whether accused assaulted in custody - Whether visits to accused by mother and girlfriend were organised by Gardaí to unlawfully influence accused - Offences Against The State Act, 1939 (No 13) section 30.

The Court was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused was arrested on the basis of a bona fide suspicion held by the arresting Garda that the accused was involved in the commission of an offence. The Court was also satisfied that the accused was fit for interview at all material times having been examined by a doctor and regularly observed by a custody officer who did not detect any signs of drug withdrawal. It was also established to the satisfaction of the Court that the accused was not assaulted during his period in custody. If the visits of the accused's mother and girlfriend were motivated by a desire to oppress the accused or to improperly influence him then any statements made by him as a result would be inadmissible. However, the Court was not satisfied on the basis of the evidence before it that the visits were so motivated. The Special Criminal Court so held in saying that the arrest and detention of the accused was lawful.


Ruling of the Court delivered by Mr. Justice Barr on the 23rd day of October, 1998.


The accused has challenged the legality of his arrest and subsequent detention and interrogation at Lucan garda station under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939from 16th to 18th October, 1996 on five grounds. The first related to his earlier arrest under Section 30 of the 1939 Act by D. Garda Sheeran at the Green Isle hotel on the night of 7th/8th October, 1996 and his subsequent detention at Ronanstown garda station until in or about 2.45 a.m. on the 8th when he was released from custody. The second ground relates to the alleged illegality of his arrest by Inspector (then D. Sergt.) Kennedy on 16th October at 3.30 p.m. which it is submitted vitiated the legality of his subsequent detention at Lucan garda station. The third ground relates to the alleged failure of the gardai to accord to the accused his basic right to appropriate medication which it is alleged he required to counter substantial withdrawal symptoms relating to heroin addiction from which he was allegadly suffering at all material times while in custody at Lucan. It is submitted that even if the court rejects the accused's submissions on the first two grounds, in the premises his detention and interrogation at all material times at Lucan was unlawful. The fourth ground relates to an allegation of substantial physical abuse of the accused by D. Srgt. Condon during interrogation by him and D. Garda Maher which allegedly commenced in or about 8.00 a.m. on 17th October in course of which it is contended he sustained a significant physical injury to his neck when held in a Nelson lock in course of an assault by both gardai. It is submitted that the violent conduct of D. Srgt. Condon and his colleague at that time vitiated the legality of all subsequent interrogations of the accused by the police at Lucan garda station.


A fifth ground, not originally referred to by the defence, emerged in course of the voir dire. It transpired in evidence that during the accused's detention at Lucan he was visited, first, by his girlfriend, Vanessa Meehan, and subsequently by his elderly mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Ward, both of whom were in police custody elsewhere at that time pursuant to arrests under Section 30. The visits were arranged and facilitated by the gardai. No evidence was given on their behalf as to why they did so. The court did not hear evidence in course of the voir dire as to certain verbal statements allegedly made by the accused in course of interrogation which the prosecution contend amount to admissions by him in relation to the offence charged. The alleged statements are disputed by the accused. However, the court has been informed by defence counsel, and it does not appear to be in dispute, that soon after the accused was allowed to meet his girlfriend and subsequently his mother, he made verbal statements to interrogating gardai which the prosecution contend amount to admission. It is submitted on behalf of the accused that the meeting with his girlfriend and his mother, orchestrated by the gardai, require an explanation from the prosecution as to why they took place and that there is an onus on the prosecution to establish that the interrogating gardai had respected the accused's basic right to fair procedures in the matter of his interrogation by the police and that such rights were not violated by them. It was submitted that the meetings in question might have had an improper purpose and motivation. It was contended that the onus was on the prosecution to negative that possibility and as that onus had not been discharged, the effect is that the legality of subsequent interrogations of the accused after his meeting with Ms. Meehan has been vitiated. It was further submitted that even if the meetings in question did not amount to an oppression of the accused to which he succumbed and did not weaken his resolve not to co-operate with the police, subsequent interrogations of the accused should be declared unlawful on the ground that the police ought not to be allowed the benefit of any evidence obtained after it orchestrated the meetings in question, the circumstances and purposes of which it has failed to justify.


The first two grounds may be conveniently dealt with together. As to the Green Isle hotel arrest; the court has heard evidence from D. Garda Sheeran; Gardai Doolan and Egan; several witnesses from the hotel, being staff and security personnel, and also the accused. Most of the salient facts are conceded or have not been challenged by the defence. The court is satisfied as to the following:-


The accused and his brother, Seamus, together with his brother, Patrick, arrived at the Green Isle hotel, Clondalkin, at or about 10.00 p.m. on 7th October, 1996, having been driven there by Patrick Ward in his Hiace van. The vehicle was driven into the hotel car-park. Soon afterwards it was driven out again and immediately returned. This was regarded as suspicious by security personnel. The accused alone approached the reception desk and booked a double room for the night. Neither he or his brother, Seamus, had an overnight bag or any luggage. He filled out a registration card in which he entered a false name and address. He was given a double room at ground floor level. He paid cash in advance. He and his brother, Seamus, went to the room. Patrick Ward came into the hotel but did not acknowledge or associate with his brothers. He went to the bar and subsequently left the premises. A security man checked the information furnished by the accused and found that the address given was false. It was decided to keep the bedroom under observation. After a time one of the occupants left it and proceeded to wander around the hotel leaving certain fire doors open behind him. It appears that he may have discovered that he was under observation. He entered a crowded room where a function was in progress and was not seen again. He did not return to the bedroom. At that stage the suspicious behaviour of the Ward brothers was reported to the duty manager. Some time before then another hotel had been robbed at night by purported guests who had rented a bedroom. The manager reported his suspicions to the police and sought their assistance. D. Garda Sheeran was sent to investigate. He drove to the hotel alone. He was armed with a revolver. As a result of what he learned from the hotel personnel he sent for assistance. Gardai Doolan and Egan, unarmed uniformed members who were on patrol-car duty in the sub-district, arrived at the hotel. It is unclear how many gardai responded to D. Garda Sheeran's call for help. Other uniformed police may also have done so. The court is satisfied that nothing turns on that as the accused accepts that only three policemen entered his bedroom, i.e., Detective Garda Sheeran and the two uniformed members, Gardai Doolan and Egan. This accords with the prosecution evidence. There may have been other officers on watch outside the building. Mr. Nolan, the duty manager, opened the bedroom door with a master key but did not enter the room. D. Garda Sheeran and Gardai Doolan and Egan did so. The accused was the only person in the room. He appeared to be asleep in one of the beds. He was undressed down to his boxer-shorts. He was wakened by D. Garda Sheeran who recognised him as being Paul "Hippo" Ward. The former gave evidence that he arrested the accused under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939for possession of a fircarm at S.D.S., Naas Road on 2nd October, 1996. The bedroom and bathroom on-suite were searched. The accused was told to dress and was handcuffed by Garda Doolan. The three gardai brought him to the lobby and then out of the building. He was conveyed handcuffed to Ronanstown garda station by the two uniformed gardai in the jeep in which they had been on patrol when summoned to the hotel. On arrival at the garda station...

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