People v Paul Ward

 
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1998 WJSC-SCC 13501

THE SPECIAL CRIMINAL COURT

Barr J.

Smyth J.

Ballagh J.

PEOPLE v. PAUL WARD
THE PEOPLE
-v-
PAUL WARD

Citations:

OFFENCES AGAINST THE STATE ACT 1939 S30

DPP, PEOPLE V SHAW 1982 IR 1

AG, PEOPLE V O'BRIEN 1965 IR 142

DPP, PEOPLE V BUCKLEY 1990 1 IR 14, 2 FREWEN 210

R V STEENSON 1986 17 NIBJ 36

R V CRUMLEY 1986 7 NIJB 1

AG, PEOPLE V CASEY (NO 2) 1963 IR 33

DPP, PEOPLE V MADDEN 1977 IR 336

R V BAINSBRIDGE 1960 1 QB 129

NATIONAL COAL BOARD V GAMBLE 1959 1 QB 11

CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT 1964 S4

Abstract:

Criminal — Accused charged with murder — Verbal admissions — Admissibility of verbal admissions — Whether verbal admissions procured by unlawful means — Whether visits to accused by mother and girlfriend motivated by desire to pressurise accused — Whether verbal admissions in fact made by accused

Accomplice evidence — Credibility of accomplice — Motivation for accomplice to give evidence — Whether accomplice in supergrass category of witnesses — Whether evidence of accomplice in this case should be treated with greater suspicion than evidence of ordinary accomplice — Whether accomplice would have personal interest in implicating accused — Offences Against The State Act 1939 (No 13), section 30.

1

Mr. Justice Barr on the 27th day of November, 1998.

2

On 26th June, 1996 Ms. Veronica Guerin, a distinguished brave journalist who specialised in the investigation of crime, was brutally murdered when riddled with bullets as she sat in her car waiting for traffic lights to change at the Naas road. Boot road junction, Clondalkin, Dublin. Eyewitnesses have established that as the victim waited at the lights a motorcycle on which there were two persons drew up alongside her. The rider and the pillion passanger both wore full size helmets which concealed their faces. The pillion passanger broke a window in the driver's door and then fired six bullets at point blank range into the car. All struck the victim and caused fatal injuries from which it is probable that she died within second. Thereupon the motorcycle sped away and disappeared. The accused has been charged with the murder of Ms. Guerin. The prosecution does not contend that he was the gunman or the motorcyclist or that he was present at the scene of the crime. The case against him is that he participated in the planning of the murder and that pursuant to such plans he played an important role in the crime by receiving from the killers very soon after the event the motorcycle and the gun which they had used and he disposed of both thereafter. The evidence against the accused comprises verbal admissions allegedly made by him while in police custody following his arrest under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939on 16th October, 1996 and the testimony of Charles Bowden, an accomplice, whose evidence purports to establish that the accused was an accessory before the fact of Ms. Guerin's murder.

THE VERBAL ADMISSIONS ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN MADE BY THE ACCUSED
3

The accused was arrested at 3.30 p.m. on 16th October, 1996 at Windmill Park, Crumlin, by Inspector (then Sergeant) Padraig Kennedy and he was brought to Lucan garda station which was the headquarters of the Guerin murder investigation, one of the biggest ever mounted by the Garda Siochana. The accused is an experienced Section 30 detainee having been arrested on that basis on earlier occasions and he stated in evidence that he was well aware of the importance in his own interest of adopting a policy of total silence in course of interrogation and he alleged that he did so. He took two precautions on arrival at the station. He asked to see his solicitor and also a doctor. Shortly afterwards he had a consultation with his solicitor, Mr. Hanahoe, who advised him of his right to silence and not to answer any questions. Dr. Lionel Williams, a police doctor, examined him. The accused has stated that he had two reasons for asking for a doctor. First, he wished to be medically examined so that there would be, if necessary, professional evidence to establish that at the time of examination he bore no signs of physical injury. He deposed that the second reason was that he then and had been for some time a heroin abuser and he required a medication called physeptone to counter the symptoms of his alleged addiction. Dr. Williams did not regard him as being then in withdrawal but provided a single dose of physeptone to the police for the benefit of the accused should be require it. There is some controversy as to when and in what circumstances he received the medication.

4

The accused was interviewed by D. Sergeant Kennedy and D. Garda Curran from 4.10 to 4.25 p.m. on the day of arrest (16th October). The next interview was from 7.15 p.m. to 9.10 p.m. conducted by D. Sergeant Healy and D. Garda clancy. The third and final interview that day was by D. Gardai Byrne and Hanley from 9.55 p.m. to 11.45 p.m.

5

On the following day the first interrogation session was with D. Gardai Dillon and O'Shea from 8.20 a.m. until 12.15 p.m., D. Sergeant Lynagh having replaced D. Garda O'Shea at 11.30 a.m. The next session was with D. Gardai Hanley and O'Shea and it commenced at 2.25 p.m. It was interrupted by a visit from Mr. Hanahoe from 3.00 to 3.10 p.m. and for the reading of the Extension Order by the station sergeant at 3.20 p.m. There was also a short visit by D. Sergeant Ennis of the Ballistics Section. The accused was returned to his cell from the interview room at 5.55 p.m. The next session was conducted by D. Sergeant Lynagh and D. Garda Dillon. It commenced at 7.35 p.m. and was interrupted by a meeting between the accused and his partner, Ms. Vanessa Meehan, which took place in a different interview room. The visit was supervised by D. Garda Hanley and lasted until 10.35 p.m. when the accused was returned to the original interview room where the interrogation by D. Sergeant Lynagh and D. Garda Dillon contined until 11.25 p.m. when the accused was returned to his cell for the night. There is controversy about an alleged nocturnal visit by D. Garda Condon to the cell that night and it ultimately emerged in evidence and the court accepts that a noisy tattooed drunk was detained in the accused's cell for about 50 minutes in the early hours of the morning.

6

It is common case that until the accused's meeting with Ms. Meehan the position was that in course of the five sessions comprising a total of 141/2 hours of intense interrogation by a series of experienced police offices, the accused firmly maintained his policy of silence. On the promise that the evidence of Sergeant Lynagh and Garda Dillon is truthful, a profound change took place after that visit and admissions were made by the accused amounting to a confession of participation in the murder of Ms. Guerin. It is alleged that the following admissions were made by the accused when his interrogation was continued by Sergeant Lynagh and Garda Dillon from 10.35 p.m. The interviewers contend that Garda Dillon recorded at the time the following questions and answers made thereto by the accused:-

"Prisoner visited girlfriend, Vanessa, at 10.25 p.m. Prisoner returned to Interview Room at 10.35 p.m."

Q.

What did Vanessa say to you?

A.

She knows nothing, she wasn't in the house that day.

Q.

What day?

A.

The day the Guerin one was shot. She wasn't in the house. She knows nothing about it.

Q.

What happened at your house after the shooting?

A.

Meehan and Holland called.

Q.

Why did they call to your house?

A.

You'se known why they called.

Q.

Tell us why?

A.

We had it planned after the job was done on Guerin they would come back to my place. I was to get rid of the gear.

Q.

What do you mean by gear?

A.

The gun and the bike, I got rid of them.

Q.

Where are they now.

A.

No response.

Q.

Is it hidden where someone else will find it? You know someone else might get shot?

A.

No response."

7

A number of other questions are recorded as having been asked and in each case it is noted that there was no response.

8

This poses two alternative possibilities. If the alleged admissions were made then, they constituted a huge breakthrough in the Guerin investigation. What was said clearly amounted to admissions by the accused that he was guilty of being an accessory before the fact of murder and thus in law would be as gulity as the actual participators, i.e., the gunman and the motorcyclist. The accused was the first person, other than Charles Bowden, to confess to...

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