State rejects Simeon Burke's 'conspiracy' claims

State Rejects Simeon Burke's 'Conspiracy' Claims
Family members of Simeon Burke leaving Cloverhill Court after he appeared there on Thursday afternoon. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
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High Court reporters

The State has urged the High Court to dismiss law student Simeon Burke's claim that he is unlawfully detained in prison following his arrest on a public order charge at the Four Courts last month.

Seamus Clarke SC for the State said that Mr Burke has wrongfully stated that parties including the Gardaí, lawyers for the State and the courts have engaged in a "conspiracy" to wrongfully arrest, detain and charge him with an offence arising out of an incident in the Court of Appeal (CoA) last month.


Counsel said Mr Burke's allegations that gardaí have "lied" about the events leading up to and subsequent to his arrest were also rejected by the State.

This was not the case counsel said, adding that the court could be satisfied from the evidence that Mr Burke's ongoing detention is lawful, and that his trial on the public order matter should be permitted to proceed next week.

Mr Burke was arrested when the CoA was giving judgment in an aspect of his brother Enoch's ongoing legal dispute with Wilson's Hospital School.

Mr Burke was earlier this week granted an inquiry under Article 40.4.2 of the constitution into the legality of the 24-year-old Co Mayo man's detention at Cloverhill Prison.


The inquiry is being conducted by Mr Justice Brian Cregan.


In his submission to the court on the opening day of an inquiry into the legality of his detention Simeon Burke said that on that date he was wrongfully arrested, detained and was "treated like an animal" and was physically injured when being removed from the courtroom, and in the yard immediately outside the court.

He also claims that the warrant currently detaining him is fundamentally flawed on grounds including that it states he was arrested by a garda who he alleges did not arrest him.

He says the gardaí had no right to remove him from the courtroom, adding that the judges of the CoA did not make a direction while they were in the courtroom that he and members of his family should leave the court.


He also claims that various procedures were not followed by the gardaí, including that he was never properly informed as to why he had been arrested.

He further claims that the breach of his constitutional rights is so egregious that the District Court lacks the jurisdiction to hear the case against him.

As part of his inquiry he seeks an order from the court directing his release from prison as well as an order prohibiting his trial before the District Court from proceeding.

Mr Burke, who became emotional at one point of the proceedings, said that gardaí and lawyers for the DPP have lied to the District Court on matters including the use and availability of CCTV pictures taken from cameras mounted outside the CoA courtrooms, and about the availability of the court's Digital Audio Recording of proceedings on March 7th last.


In reply to a question from the judge Mr Burke accepted that he did not "acquiesce" when he was detained by the gardaí, during what he said was his wrongful arrest.

He said that he did not accept that the CoA had asked members of his family to leave the courtroom on March 7th, adding that the judges rose after members of his family had sought to raise issues with that court while the court was reading out its judgement in his brother's case.

He said he did not accept that those interjections by other members of his family were such that the three judges of the CoA had to rise and were unable to give their decision.

Simeon Burke's application is opposed, and the State represented by Mr Clarke appearing with Grainne O'Neill Bl, and the DPP who is represented in the inquiry by Matthew Holmes Bl reject the student's arguments and say that he is lawfully detained.


Counsel said that all of Mr Burke's claims regarding the arrest are disputed. Including his claim that the arresting garda was not the garda who arrested him.

Gardaí counsel added did not require a warrant to remove persons from the courtroom and had to take steps to deal with what was a public order situation.

Counsel added that many of the issues raised by Mr Burke, and his sister Ammi in the inquiry are in fact matters for the judge hearing the criminal trial, or are not relevant to an inquiry brought under Article 40 of the constitution, which Mr Burke had brought at the 11th hour.

Counsel said Mr Burke had elected not to take up bail afforded to him by the District Court, however that was "his choice".

If that argument was valid, counsel said the courts would need "a new list" to deal with applications from those accused of criminal offences seeking to get their trials halted.

Simeon Burke is charged with a breach of the peace, under the Public Order Act, for engaging in threatening, insulting and abusive words and behaviour at the CoA.

The offence carries a possible three-month custodial sentence.

Simeon Burke, with an address at Cloonsunna, Castlebar, Co Mayo, denies the charges and the contested hearing is due to take place before the District Court on April 17th.

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He has pleaded not guilty to a breach of the peace offence in connection with outbursts in the Court of Appeal on 7 March last.

Mr Burke has been remanded in custody since his arrest over a month ago with consent to bail, which he has declined to take up.

He has refused to take up bail on a point of principle, arguing that to do would be to accept that his arrest was in some way lawful.

Mr Burke, who is a student barrister-at-law at the Kings Inns has refused to sign a bail bond with a condition to stay away from the Four Courts.

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