The State (Coveney) v Special Criminal Court

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeFinlay P.
Judgment Date01 January 1982
Neutral Citation1980 WJSC-HC 803
CourtHigh Court
Date01 January 1982

1980 WJSC-HC 803

THE HIGH COURT.

No.521 S.S./1979
State (COVENEY) v. SPECIAL CRIMINAL COURT

BETWEEN:

THE STATE AT THE PROSECUTION OF THOMAS FRANCIS COVENEY
v.
THE MEMBERS OF THE SPECIAL CRIMINAL COURT
1

Judgment delivered on the 13th day of March 1980 Finlay P.

2

This is an application to make absolute notwithstanding cause shown a conditional order of prohibition made on the 20th November 1979 by Mr. Justice McWilliam prohibiting the members of the Special Criminal Court from entering on or proceeding with the trial of the prosecutor on Bill No. 40/76. The application arises from the following facts. The prosecutor was brought before the District Court in Cork on the 7th February 1975 charged with the offence that being armed with an offensive weapon, to wit, an imitation firearm he assaulted one Michael O'Reilly with intent to rob him contrary to Section 23 (1) of the Larceny Act 1916 as amended by Section 25 of the Firearms Act 1964. At that hearing the prosecutor signed a plea of guilty to the charge and was sent forward to the Circuit Court for sentence pursuant to Section 13 sub-section 2 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1967.

3

The prosecutor then appeared before the Circuit Court in Cork on the 9th of April 1975 when the matter was adjourned on the application of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The matter came again at the adjourned hearing before the Court on the 10th June 1975 and was on this occasion adjourned on the application of the prosecutor. At a further adjourned hearing on the 4th November 1975 a second application for adjournment was made on behalf of the prosecutor and was granted and the matter came into the list in the Circuit Court in Cork on the 3rd of February 1976.

4

On the 3rd of February 1976 the prosecutor through his solicitor indicated to the Court that he intended to withdraw his plea of guilty and instead to plead not guilty to the charge and Counsel on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions then purported to enter a nolle prosequi against the accused and the accused was apparently discharged by the Circuit Court.

5

On the 4th of March 1976 the accused was re-arrested on the same charge and subsequently a Book of Evidence was served upon him.

6

On the 29th of March 1976 the Director of Public Prosecutions issued a certificate pursuant to Section 46 (2) of the Offences against the State Act 1939certifying that the ordinary courts were in his opinion inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice and the preservation of public peace and order in relation to the trial of the prosecutor on the charge. On the 2nd day of April 1976 the prosecutor appeared before the Cork District Court and was sent forward for trial on the charge to the Special Criminal Court.

7

The charge against the prosecutor has apparently been pending in the Special Criminal Court since the month of April 1976. Ex parte application to the High Court was, as I have indicated, made on the 20th November 1979 for a Conditional Order of Prohibition and it was based on an affidavit sworn by the prosecutor on the 20th of September 1979.

8

There was no explanation contained in the affidavit of the prosecutor nor indeed tendered to me of what in effect was a gross delay between the date upon which the prosecutor was re-arrested, namely the 4th of March 1976 and the date upon which he first applied to the High Court for a Conditional Order of Prohibition. Without expressly so deciding I am not however satisfied that even this gross delay would dis-entitle the prosecutor to the relief of prohibition if in fact the Special Criminal Court were about to enter upon a trial of a charge against him in which it had no jurisdiction. I do not rest my decision on this case therefore on the basis of that delay.

9

The case was substantially put before me upon the basis that it came within the category of cases outlined by me in a decision in the State O'Callaghan .v. Ó hUdhaigh 1977 I.R. Page 42,namely that to permit the Director of Public Prosecutions to have re-arrested the prosecutor in March of 1976 and to have then issued a Certificate under Section 46 (2) of the Offences against the State Act 1939and to have him tried before the Special Criminal Court in pursuance of that certificate and of the order by the learned District Justice returning him for trial would be to concur in a procedure which was manifestly unfair as between the prosecution and the accused.

10

I am satisfied that the considerations which applied to the particular facts of the State O'Callaghan .v. Ó hUdhaigh do not apply to this case.

11

Firstly, there is nothing in my view inconsistent, as was urged upon me, in what one must assume was a decision on the part of the Director of Public Prosecutions so long as the prosecutor was signing a plea of guilty to the charges against him that the ordinary courts were adequate to secure the administration of justice and a later decision when the prosecutor withdrew that plea and sought a trial before a jury to the effect they were then inadequate. Quite clearly many of the considerations properly and validly forming the basis for the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions to issue a certificate pursuant to Section 46...

To continue reading

Request your trial
6 cases
  • Frank Ward v DPP and Judge Connellan
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 15 Junio 2005
    ...ACT 1924 S12 KILLIAN, STATE v AG 1957 92 ILTR 182 O'CALLAGHAN, STATE v O HUADHAIGH 1977 IR 42 COVENEY, STATE v SPECIAL CRIMINAL COURT 1982 ILRM 284 CHAIRMAN OF LONDON COUNTY QUARTER SESSIONS EX PARTE DOWNES 1954 1 QB 1 ARCHBOLD CRIMINAL PLEADING, EVIDENCE & PRACTICE 2002 CONLON v KELLY &......
  • State (O'Connell) v Fawsitt
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 30 Julio 1986
    ...69. In re Singer (No. 1) (1960) 97 I.L.T.R. 130. D.P.P. v. Gill [1980] I.R. 263. The State (Coveney) v. Special Criminal Court [1982] I.L.R.M. 284. O'Domhnaill v. Merrick [1984] I.R. 151; [1985] I.L.R.M. 40. The State (Cuddy) v. Mangan (Unreported, High Court, D'Arcy J., 1st July, 1985). Re......
  • Joyce v Judge McNamara
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 13 Octubre 2014
    ...of any real prejudice to the applicant: see by analogy the comments of Finlay P. in The State (Coveney) v. Special Criminal Court [1982] I.L.R.M. 284, 289." 25 25. I appreciate that Hogan J. was not dealing with a final conviction, but notwithstanding that point of distinction the remarks o......
  • G (B) v District Judge Murphy and Others
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 20 Septiembre 2011
    ...any real prejudice to the applicant: see, e.g., by analogy the comments of Finlay P. in The State (Coveney) v. Special Criminal Court [1982] I.L.R.M. 284, 22 22. Third, and in any event, the applicant could properly have sought to have the orders rectified by the District Judge, whether by ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Selectivity in prosecution in the district court
    • Ireland
    • Irish Judicial Studies Journal No. 2-9, July 2009
    • 1 Julio 2009
    ...criteria 78 O’Malley, The Criminal Process (note 7) , ch. 12, para. 12.3.6., at n. 127: The State (Coveney) v. Special Criminal Court [1982] I.L.R.M. 284. 79 O’Malley, The Criminal Process , ch. 12 para. 12.3.6 at n. 128; The State (Walsh) v. Lennon [1942] I.R. 112. 80 O’Malley, The Crimina......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT