O'Gorman murder-accused unable to attend court today, seeks garda recordings

Gardai at the scene of the killing

An Italian man accused of the murder of well known pro-life campaigner and religious writer Tom O'Gorman at his north Dublin home could not come to court today.

Judge Victor Blake further remanded him in his absence after he was told that 34-year-old Saverio Bellante would not be present for his hearing at Cloverhill District Court. He was furnished with a letter from Dr Paul O'Connell at the Central Mental Hospital and adjourned the case for two weeks, until January 31, while gardaí are preparing their investigation file.

Meanwhile a warning was given to the media to be careful in their reporting of the proceedings and the judge was told by Mr Bellante's lawyer that a complaint has already been sent to the DPP over the publicity connected to the case.

Following a fatal stabbing, the body of Mr O'Gorman, aged 39, from Beech Park Avenue, in the suburb of Castleknock, was found after gardaí were called to his large detached home at about 1.50am on Sunday.

He was pronounced dead at the scene and a post mortem was later carried out by Professor Marie Cassidy .

His lodger, Saverio Bellante, a customer service agent, was later arrested; he had replied “I am guilty” after he was charged, Detective Garda Patrick Traynor had told a district court hearing last Monday.

The 34-year-old, who is from Palermo in Sicily, is accused of murdering Mr O'Gorman, at Beech Park Avenue, Castleknock between January 11 and 12.

At his first court appearance on Monday (Jan 13) he had stated that he did not want a lawyer and after he was informed of his rights to have one, a judge had heard that “he's happy to represent himself”.

The 34-year-old had been remanded in custody and an order was made that was to be medically assessed.

He was due to appear at Cloverhill District Court this morning where solicitor Michael Staines address Judge Blake and said that he will be representing Mr Bellante.

He agreed with solicitor Rachel Joyce, for the State, that his client was not going to be produced to the court and a letter, from Dr O'Connell was handed in to the judge.

Ms Joyce said that she was seeking a two-week remand and added that the DPP's office had yet to receive a file on the case. But she also said that it she did not think there was any reality that gardaí would have the full investigation file in two weeks.

Mr Staines said that he had no difficulty with that and he was then granted an section 56 order which relates to the disclosure by the prosecution of video evidence to the defence. Judge Blake also made an order that memos of interviews taken in the investigation would also be handed over to the defence.

The defence lawyer also asked for free legal aid to be granted and added that the case involved “a large amount of psychiatric reports”. Judge Blake said he appreciated that, however, he added that he would first prefer to have a statement of means to be filled out.

He deferred ruling on this issue until the next hearing, on January 31, but assured Mr Staines that if legal aid were approved it would be backdated.

Just before the judge adjourned the case, Mr Staines said he has complained to the DPP in writing over the large amount of publicity in relation to the case. “The sub judice rule, in my opinion, has already been broken,” he said.

The defence lawyer said journalists present for the hearing had to be careful and the Judge Blake added “I endorse what you say.”

The deceased man, Tom O'Gorman, was a well known pro-life advocate and former journalist with the Catholic newspaper The Voice Today. Recently been a researcher for the Dublin-based Catholic lobby group the Iona Institute.

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