Mayo man's bid to halt prosecution over incident is an 'abuse of process', court rules

Stephen Manning, an Independent candidate in the 2016 general election, claimed he is being subjected to malicious prosecution
Mayo man's bid to halt prosecution over incident is an 'abuse of process', court rules

A Co Mayo man has failed to get leave for a High Court judicial review aimed at halting his pending District Court trial on charges of assault and threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour at Castlebar Court office four years ago.

Stephen Manning, an Independent candidate in the 2016 general election, with addresses in Co Mayo, claimed he is being subjected to malicious prosecution and made wide-ranging allegations against many parties, including judges, gardaí, lawyers and court staff.

On Tuesday, Mr Justice Michael MacGrath refused to grant him leave for judicial review.

He was satisfied Mr Manning’s application was designed not to secure an order for prohibition of the District Court case but as “a vehicle to air his perceived grievances against those who have dealt with him or his cases now or in the past and with whom he might disagree”. This was an “impermissible objective of an application for judicial review and amounts to an abuse of process”.

Relisted

It was “noteworthy”, when this case was relisted by the High Court, Mr Manning had chosen not to engage with the court and sought to have the court recuse itself from hearing the matter.

This was further confirmation his application has “little to do” with the pending District Court case and is “an abuse of process”.

Earlier, the judge noted the District Court prosecution of Mr Manning arose from an incident on April 4th 2017 at Castlebar Court Office when Mr Manning attended for the purpose of requesting a file in relation to another matter then pending before the Circuit Court.

Mr Justice MacGrath said, in seeking leave for judicial review, Mr Manning’s “very extensive and lengthy affidavits” for the most part contain allegations against individuals, many of whom have little or nothing to do with the pending District Court prosecution.

In an affidavit sworn in June 2018, Mr Manning admitted he was in effect alleging “a broad ranging conspiracy” by various named individuals, bodies and agents of the State.

Alleged misconduct

Mr Manning alleged misconduct or improper activity by at least five members of the Courts Service, seven gardaí, seven members of the offices of the DPP and Chief State Solicitor, three registrars from different courts and at least 27 judges of various courts, some who have since retired.

He also outlined alleged activities on the part of what he described as 14 players, including court staff, gardai, solicitors, judges and the Law Society, in support of the alleged collusion.

It is difficult to see how many of the allegations made by Mr Manning could give rise to grounds for prohibiting the District Court hearing, Mr Justice MacGrath said.

He was satisfied the vast majority of the matters raised relating to the conduct of the District Court case could be dealt with on a substantive basis during any further hearing of the complaint. Mr Manning had been granted legal aid, he noted.

The only aspects of this application potentially connected to an application for prohibition were those which alleged prejudgment and bias on the part of the District Judge, he said.

He was satisfied there was no basis for allegations by Mr Manning of prejudgment and bias on the part of District Judge Deirdre Gearty. Because that judge, “presumably for pragmatic reasons” has decided not to hear the proceedings concerning Mr Manning, this particular complaint fell away and is moot, he held.

No basis had been made out entitling Mr Manning to leave for judicial review, he concluded.

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