Evidence of interviews with firearms accused not admissible, court rules
Evidence of garda interviews conducted with two men accused of the possession of an assault rifle and a handgun is not admissible at their trial, the Special Criminal Court has ruled.
Vincent Ryan (aged 22) and his co-accused Darragh Evans (aged 23) have pleaded not guilty to the possession of an AKM assault rifle and Webley-make revolver MkV1 at Clonshaugh Walk, Coolock, Dublin 17 on September 15, 2011.
Counsel for Mr Ryan, Mr Hugh Hartnett SC, today said the non-jury court should enter a voir dire, a trial within a trial to determine the legitimacy of questions asked and answers given during the detention of the accused where detectives invoked Section 18 b (iii) of the Criminal Justice Act 1984 as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 2007.
The section allows a judge or jury to draw inferences from an accused’s failure or refusal to account for an object, substance or mark, or any mark on such object, found otherwise in the possession of the accused.
Detectives had asked Darragh Evans to account for the presence of a DNA profile matching his own found on the AKM assault rifle and had asked Vincent Ryan to account for a DNA profile matching his own found on the AK-47 style ammunition magazine.
After hearing evidence from interviewing gardaí in the voir dire, presiding judge Mr Justice Butler said that the court had to rule on the net point as to whether the section in the interviews with each of the accused was properly invoked.
Mr Justice Butler said that in order for the court to say the section was properly invoked, it seemed it was necessary to find the accused were in possession of the magazine or rifle.
He said the court found this was a “circular matter”, and as far as the court could see the section was not properly invoked.
Mr Tom O’Connell SC, for the State, then told the court that prosecution case had concluded.
The court heard that the garda investigation in to the offence began after an incident involving the discharging of a firearm on Marsfield Avenue in Clongriffin on September 15, 2011.
Gardaí who searched a Saab 95 car recovered a short distance away from Marsfield Avenue found an AKM assault rifle, an AK-47 style ammunition magazine, a Webley revolver and a Nike bag containing a foil lid from a Pringles crisp container.
The Special Criminal Court has heard evidence from forensic scientist Dr Fiona Thornton that a DNA profile matching that of Darragh Evans was found on the AKM assault rifle and on the Pringles lid, while a DNA profile matching that of Vincent Ryan was found on the AK-47 style magazine.
However, under cross-examination Dr Thornton also agreed that the incomplete, low-level DNA profiles taken from the AKM assault rifle and the ammunition magazine could have been deposited there by secondary or tertiary transfer as equally as direct contact.
The trial continues on Tuesday before Mr Justice Butler, sitting with Judge Margaret Heneghan and Judge William Hamill.
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