A young woman operating “under some level of coercion” tried to bring about the collapse of her boyfriend’s trial by getting a man to shout ‘rat’ at her boyfriend in front of a jury.
Barrister Alan O’Dwyer said Megan O’Connor was “under some level of coercion and was under the misapprehension that the trial would collapse and that her partner would return to her.”
Facing a six-month sentence the young woman was in Cork Circuit Appeals Court hoping to have that sentence suspended to enable her to continue with efforts to turn her life around since she did this four years ago.
“She clearly accepts her part in the matter was extremely wrong. She was becoming addicted to heroin at that time and was under some level of coercion,” Mr O’Dwyer said.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said the prison sentence of six months imposed at Cork District Court was moderate.
“I have to stress this is an exceptionally serious case which merits a prison sentence. It was a deliberate and fundamental effort to undermine a trial and showed organised criminality. She wanted to get the trial aborted. It was a fundamental interference with justice. It is too deliberate, it is too serious, it is too fundamental an attack on justice.
“You cannot do something like this and walk away from it. I remember the trial and how serious it was,” Judge Ó Donnabháin said.
Frank Nyhan state solicitor for Cork city said the trial involved a man discharging a gunshot into a house.
The judge said the best he could do in taking the young woman’s personal circumstances into account was to reduce the six months sentence to four months, commencing now.
As well as pleading guilty to trying to pervert the course of justice she admitted a related criminal damage charge where she organised for someone to spray graffiti on the front wall of the courthouse on Washington St, Cork, including the words: “Karma is a c***. [name of man on trial] rat.”
Megan O’Connor, aged 22, of 30 Ardcullen, Hollyhill, Cork, was taken into custody at Cork Circuit Appeals Court.
In the trial that she was trying to interfere with, the jury found the man guilty and he was jailed for 14 years in November 2016.
During the trial, there were applications to have the jury discharged because of the message painted on the façade of the courthouse in relation to the accused and on the same day when a man entered the courtroom and called the accused man a rat. The trial judge refused the applications to discharge the jury.
Detective Garda Stephen Fuller said that O’Connor was the partner of the man on trial and that she organised both incidents.