Paramedic who assaulted women during class loses challenge

Paramedic Who Assaulted Women During Class Loses Challenge
Mr Justice Garrett Simons noted that by the time the High Court case was heard last month, Long had already completed his prison sentence and been released.
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Ann O'Loughlin

A paramedic jailed for assaulting two women by placing them in choke holds during first aid class has failed in a High Court challenge to a refusal by a judge to allow him withdraw his guilty plea.

On April 30th last year at Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Gerald Keyes jailed Andrew Long (37) for two years, with one year suspended, for assault causing harm to one of the women during a Civil Defence first aid class in March 2013 in Scarriff , Co Clare. He was given a four-month concurrent sentence for the less serious charge of assault on the second woman on the same evening.


The court heard he called the two women out to a corridor. He placed the first woman in a choke hold, and she lost consciousness. In the second incident, he placed his arm around the second woman's neck and while she did not lose consciousness, she was unable to speak at the time.

Long initially pleaded not guilty, then changed it to guilty but subsequently applied to withdraw that plea and change it back to not guilty.

True admission

The Circuit Court judge ruled he could not do so because he had made a fully informed decision to plea and it was a true admission of guilt. The judge then imposed sentence.

Long, of Carraig Dubh, Toberteascain, Ennis, Co Clare, then brought High Court judicial review proceedings claiming the Circuit Court judge failed, refused or neglected to take cognisance of the fact that he sought to change his plea in a timely fashion.


He also claimed the trial judge failed, refused or neglected to address whether the application to vacate a guilty plea should be assessed on the criminal standard or the civil standard of proof.

The DPP opposed the judicial review.

Prison sentence completed

Dismissing the challenge on Tuesday, Mr Justice Garrett Simons noted that by the time the High Court case was heard last month, Long had already completed his prison sentence and been released.

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The judge said previous case law principles have established that the taking of judicial review proceedings prior to the conclusion of a criminal trial has the effect to disrupting the unitary nature of the trial, has the capacity to create chaos within the criminal justice system and is open to abuse


Another established principle is that because judicial review is concerned principally with the legality of the decision-making process and not the underlying merits of a case, the High Court's jurisdiction is far more limited than that enjoyed by the Court of Appeal (CoA) when it is dealing with an appeal against conviction and sentence, he said.

He dismissed the application for judicial review on the basis that there is an adequate alternative remedy available to him through and appeal against conviction and sentence which he already has lodged and is currently pending before the CoA.

He said none of the factors relied on by Long in his arguments disclosed exceptional circumstances such as to justify the invocation of the High Court’s supervisory jurisdiction.

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