Stephens v Governor of Castlerea Prison

JurisdictionIreland
CourtHigh Court
JudgeJustice Finlay Geoghegan
Judgment Date20 September 2002
Neutral Citation[2002] IEHC 169
Date20 September 2002

[2002] IEHC 169

THE HIGH COURT

No. 1846SS/2002
STEPHENS v. GOVERNOR OF CASTLEREA PRISON
IN THE MATTER OF AN INQUIRY PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 40.4 OF THE
CONSTITUTION OF IRELAND

BETWEEN

ALAN STEPHENS
APPLICANT

AND

THE GOVERNOR OF CASTLEREA PRISON
RESPONDENT

Citations:

CONSTITUTION ART 40.4

CRIMINAL JUSTICE (PUBLIC ORDER) ACT 1994 S6

CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT 1999 S42

CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT 1984 S4

MCDONAGH, STATE V FRAWLEY 1978 IR 131

DCR 1997 O.22

DCR 1997 O.22 r2(B)

AG, STATE V JUDGE ROE 1951 IR 172

HAWK PC 8ED VOL 2 BOOK 2 CHAP 13 S15

CHITTY CRIMINAL LAW 2ED 1826 VOL 1 CHP 8 337

AG, STATE V JUDGE FAWSITT 1955 IR 39

DCR 1997 O.22 r2

OFFENCES AGAINST THE STATE ACT 1939 S30

DPP V QUILLIGAN 1986 IR 495

DPP V WALSH 1986 IR 722

EXTRADITION ACT 1965 S39

EXTRADITION (RULE OF SPECIALITY & RE-EXTRADITION FOR THE PURPOSES OF PART III OF THE EXTRADITION ACT 1965) ORDER 1994 SI 221/1994 ART 6

BOWES, STATE V SUPERINTENDENT FITZPATRICK 1978 ILRM 195

TRIMBOLE, STATE V GOVERNOR OF MOUNTJOY PRISON 1985 IR 550

Synopsis:

CONSTITUTION

Habeas corpus

Extradition - Detention - Criminal law - Jurisdiction of District Court - Practice and procedure - Murder - Offence of criminal damage - Whether applicant lawfully detained - Whether arrest warrant defective - Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994 - Criminal Justice Act, 1999 - Bunreacht na hÉireann, 1937 Article 40 (2002/1846SS - Geoghegan J - 20/9/02)

Stephens v Governor of Castlerea Prison

Facts: The applicant had been extradited from England on foot of an arrest warrant issued by the District Court and was remanded into custody. Initially the applicant faced a charge of criminal damage and subsequently was also charged with offences of murder and larceny. The applicant sought an inquiry into his detention on the grounds that the arrest warrant originally issued by the District Court was a stale or invalid warrant and also contended that the original request for extradition on the criminal damage was a colourable device in order to investigate the unlawful killing charge.

Held by Ms. Finlay Geoghegan J in dismissing the application. The District Court judge had jurisdiction to issue the warrant in question and any defects in the recitals to the warrant were not of such a fundamental nature to justify a finding of illegality of the applicant’s detention. At the time of the request for extradition the Garda Síochána genuinely intended to pursue the criminal damage offence. The fact that the gardaí may have also intended prosecuting another offence did not affect the validity of a request for extradition.

1

Justice Finlay Geoghegan delivered on 20 September 2002.

2

On this inquiry under Article 40.4 of the Constitution, the respondent contends that the applicant is being detained in Castlerea Prison pursuant to a remand warrant which at the date of the certificate issued by the respondent was issued on 16 th August, 2002 and at the date of the hearing was issued on 30 th August, 2002. Each remand warrant is in similar form and relates to offences on charge sheets nos. 81315, 81314 and 74644. No challenge is made to the legality of such remand warrants.

3

The applicant contends that his current detention is not in accordance with law having regard to what he asserts to have been a fundamental flaw at an earlier stage in the process which, he asserts, ultimately resulted in his current detention under the above remand warrants.

4

The chronology of events which led to the applicant's current detention are complex and may be summarised as follows:

5

• On 4 th December, 1996 the applicant was charged with an offence of criminal damage alleged to have occurred on the 22 th June, 1996 being damage to one glass window shop front valued at £256.66. He was also charged on the same date with a public order offence contrary to s. 6 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994alleged to have occurred on the 22 nd June, 1996.

6

• On the 4 th December, 1996 the applicant pleaded guilty to both the said charges and was remanded on bail to 18 th December, 1996 to allow a probation report to be prepared and to consider payment of compensation.

7

• The applicant was further remanded from time to time until 2 nd April, 1997 on which date he failed to appear and a bench warrant issued for his arrest which was executed on 30 thJuly, 1997. The applicant was brought before Athlone District Court and re-admitted to bail. The case was adjourned to Ballinasloe on the 3 rd September, 1997.

8

• On the 3 th September, 1997 the applicant failed to appear at Ballinasloe District Court and a bench warrant issued.

9

• On the 19 th August, 1997 the death took place of John Kennedy, a murder investigation was opened and the applicant was a suspect in relation to the matter.

10

• In the middle of 1999 An Garda Síochána received information that the applicant was in the United Kingdom.

11

• On 21 th July, 1999 a warrant was issued by Judge O'Sullivan in Ballinasioe District Court to the Superintendent of the Garda Síochána at Ballinasloe garda station to arrest the applicant as a person remanded on bail and failing to appear.

12

• On the 14 th May, 2002 the applicant was arrested in England on foot of an extradition request from Ireland. That request was grounded on the warrant of Judge O'Sullivan of 21 st July, 1999.

13

• On 15 th May, 2002 an order for the extradition of the applicant was made on consent by Bow Street Magistrates Court in London.

14

• On the 6 th June, 2002 the applicant was delivered up by the United Kingdom authorities and was brought before Mountbellew District Court where he was charged with the offence of criminal damage on the 22 nd June, 1996 and remanded in custody until the 12 th June.

15

• On the 6th June, 2002 a certificate of waiver of specialty, consenting to the applicant being restricted in his personal freedom or otherwise dealt with in the investigation by members of the Garda Síochána into the allegation that the applicant murdered John Kennedy on or about 22 nd June, 1997 and on the same date stole money the property of John Kennedy was issued by David Blunkett M.P., Secretary of State for the Home Department.

16

• On the 10 th June, 2002 the above certificate was cancelled by Mr. Blunkett M.P. and a new certificate waiving speciality and consenting to the applicant being otherwise restricted in his personal freedom or otherwise dealt with in the investigation by members of the Garda Síochána into the allegations that the applicant murdered John Kennedy on or about the 19 th August, 1997 and on the same date stole money the property of John Kennedy was issued by Mr. Blunkett.

17

• On the 11 th June, 2002 a warrant was obtained from the District Court pursuant to s. 42 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1999permitting the arrest of the applicant at Castlerea Prison and his detention under s. 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984.

18

• On the 19 th June, 2002 a further certificate of waiver of specialty was issued by Mr. Blunkett consenting to the applicant being proceeded against, sentenced, imprisoned or detained with a view to carrying out sentences or orders for the detention in respect of the following offences:

19

2 1."For that you Alan Stephens on or about the 19 th August, 1997 at the amusement arcade at the Main Street, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway in the District Court area of Ballinalsoe District No. 8 did murder John Kennedy contrary to common law and s. 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1964.

20

2. For that you Alan Stephens on or about the 19 thAugust, 1997 at the amusement arcade Main Street, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway in the District Court area of the District No. 8 did steal a sum of money to the amount of £1,887 the property of Timothy McAteer contrary to s. 2 of the Larceny Act, 1916."

21

• On the 20 th June, 2002 the applicant was charged with each of the above offences and was remanded in custody on these and the criminal damage offence.

22

• Since the 20 th June, 2002 the applicant has been remanded from time to time in custody on all three offences.

23

Counsel for the applicant makes two quite separate challenges to the legality of the current detention of the applicant. Firstly, he contends that the warrant of the 21 st July, 1999 was an invalid or stale warrant and such a fundamental flaw in the process leading to the current detention as to make it unlawful.

24

Secondly and quite separately he contends that the real purpose of the request to the authorities in the United Kingdom for the extradition of the applicant was to investigate the alleged unlawful killing of John Kennedy and that the request for extradition on the criminal damage charge was a colourable device to procure the return of the applicant to this jurisdiction for the purpose of investigating the alleged unlawful killing.

25

No argument is made against the validity of any step taken in this jurisdiction since the applicant's return on the 6 th June, 2002. It is accepted that the applicant has been charged with each of the offences in respect of which he is now remanded in custody. Further, it is accepted by counsel for the applicant that the order for extradition made by Bow Street Magistrates Court is not reviewable by this Court.

Alleged invalidity of warrant of July, 1999
26

This being an Article 40 inquiry, it is not sufficient to establish a defect in the warrant such that it would be considered to be technically invalid but rather there must be a fundamental default such that his present detention may be said to be illegal. In The State (McDonagh) v. Frawley [1978] I.R. 131 O'Higgins C.J. delivering the judgment of the Court said at p. 136:

"The stipulation in Article 40, s. 4, sub-s. 1 …that a citizen may not be deprived of his liberty save “in accordance with law” does not mean that a convicted person must be released on habeas corpus merely because...

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4 cases
  • DPP v Kiely
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  • R R v DPP
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 3 March 2015
    ...of a criminal offence. In this regard, counsel relies on the decision of Finlay Geoghegan J. in Stephens v. Governor of Castlerea Prison [2002] IEHC169 wherein it was stated that the District Court had an inherent jurisdiction to ensure that persons lawfully before it were dealt with in acc......
  • Kiely v Judge Ní Chondúin
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 27 November 2008
    ...jurisdiction - Previous failure to appear - Whether issuing of warrant appropriate step - Stephens v Governor of Castlerea Prison [2002] IEHC 169 (Unrep, Finlay Geogeghan J, 20/9/2002), State (AG) v Judge Roe [1951] IR 172 and The State (AG) v Judge Fawsitt [1955] IR 39 considered - Distr......
  • Boyle v DPP
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    • 3 March 2021
    ...of cases referred to by the respondent is the more recent decision of Finlay Geoghegan J. in Stephens v. Governor of Castlerea Prison [2002] IEHC 169. This was an inquiry under Article 40.4 of the Constitution. The applicant was being detained in Castlerea prison pursuant to a remand warran......

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