Reade v Judge Reilly & Anor,  IEHC 44 (2007)
|Docket Number:||2006 208JR|
THE HIGH COURT
JUDICIAL REVIEW[2006 No. 208 JR]BETWEENAIDAN READEAPPLICANTand
JUDGE REILLY AND
THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONSRESPONDENTSJUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Charleton delivered on the 26th day of February, 2007
The applicant seeks an order compelling Judge Reilly to hear a case in which he is accused of two offences contrary to s. 3 and s. 15 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997. The offences with which he is charged are stated in two District Court summonses as follows:-"1. That you, the said accused did, on the 25/07/2004 at Black Rose Studios, Menlough, Galway in the said District Court area of Mount Bellew, falsely imprisoned Karen Gleeson. Contrary to s. 15 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997,2. That you, the said accused did, on the 25/07/2004 at Black Rose Studios, Menlough, Galway in the said District Court area of Mount Bellew, assaulted one Karen Gleeson causing her harm. Contrary to s. 3 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997."
I need to refer to some of the facts of this case. Since May, 2004, Karen Gleeson, according to her statement given to the Gardaí in the aftermath of this alleged assault, lived with the applicant. She had also lived there for four or five months from the summer of 2003. Aidan Reade and Karen Gleeson had been going out for about a year and a half prior to the alleged assault. In her statement she complains of Mr. Reade's temper and of having received about seven beatings. Early on the morning in question they were apparently both in bed when a text message came through for Karen Gleeson. There apparently was a row over the noise, over who should have the phone and whether the text was from someone who might cause him jealousy. She alleges that he got on top of her, put his hand around her throat, slapped her across the face, dragged her off the bed, told her to leave the house, then pulled her back by the hair and generally abused her. She claims that when she went out the door she realised that her face "was covered in blood". She then rang the Gardaí and it is claimed that the assault recommenced with him leaning on her elbows and hitting her. This was interspersed with a barely rational conversation and then, according to Ms. Gleeson, an assault began again where she was tied up with a dressing gown cord and imprisoned. She claims to have hit the redial button, to the Garda station, whereupon the Gardaí possibly came to the door, knocked on it and then went away having received no answer. Another interlude of beating occurred and then the Gardaí arrived. Karen Gleeson made an immediate complaint. She had bruising to her arms, chin and head. For his part, Aidan Reade claims that Karen Gleeson was jealous, suspected an affair and became hysterical with him in the bedroom and house on the morning on which he is supposed to have assaulted her. His account is that some cuts were caused by her teeth braces in the course of him trying to keep her quiet by putting his hand over her mouth. Statements have also been disclosed raising an issue as to the behaviour of Karen Gleeson towards other people. Of course, I can resolve none of the facts of this. I have no idea as to whether any of this happened or whether, if any of it did, it was assisted by the usual cause of excess alcohol consumption.
The applicant was summonsed to appear before Mount Bellew District Court on 3rd March, 2005. What happened on that day was that the learned District Judge was fixing a list of trial dates and it was therefore sensible of him to see whether or not this was a case in respect of which he could accept jurisdiction. He asked the prosecuting Garda whether he could look through the relevant statements. After a couple of minutes perusal he indicated that he would accept jurisdiction in the case. The defence solicitor then made an application for details of telephone logs between Mount Bellew Garda Station and Ballinasloe Garda Station. The matter was put in for trial on 1st December, 2005. In the interim there was correspondence in relation to telephone records and photographs of the injuries to Ms. Gleeson. On 1st December, 2005, the trial commenced with the evidence of Karen Gleeson. After some minutes of her evidence the learned District Judge intervened and stated that he was sorry but he was stopping the trial because, as far as he was concerned, it did not fall within his jurisdiction. In other words, it was not a minor offence. The matter was adjourned to 5th January, 2006, for the service of a book of evidence, so that a trial could take place before a jury in Galway Circuit Court.
This case raises issues as to the distinction between minor and non-minor offences and the manner in which the courts should properly dispose of same. The applicant has argued that where, as in this case, the DPP has elected for trial before the District Court, that the judge has no choice in the matter and must abide by the jurisdiction chosen for him. Secondly, he has argued that the judge's decision of 3rd March, 2005, remained binding on him and he had no power to go back on it. Thirdly, given that the learned District Judge was hearing the evidence which he had previously read, it is argued that if there is a power to change an order that the District Court would accept jurisdiction in a criminal case it can only be done on evidence. Fourthly, it is argued that the procedure was unfair, that the applicant was hoping that the charges against him would have been disposed of in December, 2005, whereas, if an order is not granted by this court, he how has to face into the uncertainty of a jury trial.
The District Court
Historically, criminal offences were tried by a jury. The composition of juries over the centuries had reflected the desire of the establishment to remain in control of the criminal process. The Juries Act, 1927, provided for men to serve on juries, unless a woman applied for an exemption she could not serve, and for those citizens who served on a jury to be property owners. This scheme was challenged in DeBurca v. The Attorney General  I.R. 38. In the aftermath of that case the Juries Act, 1976 introduced wide ranging reforms. It provides for women to serve on juries in the ordinary way. The requirements that a juror should own property to a certain rateable evaluation has been removed by this Act. Where an offence is not being tried with a jury it is disposed of in a summary manner. The place of trial is the District Court which only has such jurisdiction in respect of the trial of offences as it is given...
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