Galway casino accused of selling drink without a licence bids to stop case being heard by District judge

By Ann O'Loughlin

A West of Ireland based casino, charged with selling alcoholic beverages without a liquor licence, is seeking to prevent a District Court judge from hearing the case.

Midnight Entertainment Ltd Limited, which runs a casino in Galway city claims Judge Mary Fahy made remarks in a previous court case concerning the casino leading to an apprehension of bias and pre-determination in the proceedings currently pending before Galway District Court.

Midnight Entertainment which operates the 4Aces Club, Dominick Street, Galway is charged with selling certain intoxicating liquor without being duly licensed to do so on November 28, 2015, contrary to Section 7 of the 1924 Intoxicating Liquor Act.

The company denies any wrongdoing and intends to fully defend the prosecution. It says it is a private members club and does not require a liquor licence.

Pic via Google Maps.

At the High Court today Seamus Clarke SC, said it was their case Judge Fahy should have recused herself from hearing what counsel said is an "unusual" case.

The case before the District Court was the "second bite of the cherry" as there had been a similar prosecution against a director of the company some 18 months previously.

On that occasion Judge Fahy found the director guilty, imposed a six-month suspended prison sentence on him and remarked that if the premises was a "genuine casino" it "must" have a liquor licence.

Counsel said the conviction was overturned on appeal to the Circuit Court.

Counsel said when the second prosecution came before the District Court in January of this year the company asked Judge Fahy to recuse herself from hearing the case, which she refused to do.

The Judge said that she did not remember making the comments, and that if she was to recuse herself from hearing cases in the Galway District where the same defendant appears she would be required to recuse herself in many cases.

Counsel said the challenge was being brought on grounds that the remarks meant there is a reasonable apprehension that the company would not receive a fair hearing.

It is also the case, counsel said, that Judge Fahy did not properly apply the proper legal test in deciding that she should recuse herself.

As a result the company seeks permission to bring a High Court challenge seeking an order quashing the Judge's decision not to recuse herself from hearing the case.

The company also seeks declarations, including that the judge acted outside of her jurisdiction unreasonably and irrationally by not recusing herself from hearing the application.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has opposed the application and says the company should not be permitted to bring the challenge.

Kieran Kelly Bl for the DPP said the judge was correct not to recuse herself from hearing the case.

There was no reason to suggest that the company would not get a fair hearing before the Judge, counsel added.

The application for leave to bring the challenge was heard by Mr Justice Charles Meenan today.

Following the conclusion of submissions the Judge reserved his decision.

He said he hoped to give judgment as soon as possible.

Most Read in Ireland