A barrister defending a Romany Gypsy who is accused of murder has asked the trial jury to put prejudice out of their minds and to give the accused the same justice they would expect for themselves, their fathers or their brothers.
Padraig Dwyer SC told the jury of eight men and four women at the Central Criminal Court that his client, Feri Anghel, is a foreigner being tried "in an alien nation in an alien language". He was described during the trial, counsel said, as a Romany gypsy. Mr Dwyer added: "That might spark prejudices in your mind and I am saying to you, put that prejudice out of your mind."
Mr Anghel (40) has pleaded not guilty to murdering Romanian national Ioan Artene Bob (49) at a location in Co Dublin on April 13th, 2018.
We as Irish people should know what it is like to be put on trial in a foreign country where the bias is against you
Citing the wrongful convictions of the Guildford Four, Birmingham Six, Maguire Seven and Judith Ward, Mr Dwyer said: "We as Irish people should know what it is like to be put on trial in a foreign country where the bias is against you."
He asked the jury to put themselves in Mr Anghel's shoes, dismissed as "just a drinker, just a fighter" because of his background, in the same way that Irish people in England were labelled as "just a Paddy, just a drunkard, just a bomber."
Counsel said the prosecution had asked them to convict based on "imagination, fantasy, speculation, prejudice and bias" and had asked them to ignore possible alternative scenarios that pointed to his client's innocence. Juries have made mistakes over the years, counsel said, and in many cases they did so based on convincing evidence where there were no "red flags" in the prosecution's case. In this case, he said, there are "many warning signs which would give you cause to pause."
Asking the jury to return a verdict of not guilty, Mr Dwyer said that if they do so, they can be sure that based on the evidence presented to them, they are doing the right thing.
Cathleen Noctor SC for the Director of Public Prosecutions had earlier told the jury that Mr Anghel was captured on CCTV "leading" Mr Artene Bob onto a Luas tram shortly after midnight on the night or early morning before Mr Artene Bob was beaten to death.
Two men dressed similarly to those seen on the Luas footage were later captured in Tallaght walking towards Sean Walsh Park. The deceased had recently won money at a casino and had €400 in his wallet, Ms Noctor said, but when he was found injured and dying in Sean Walsh Park at about 7:30am that morning, Mr Artene Bob had no cash, no phone and his ATM card was missing.
On that same morning, Ms Noctor said, "a man who is uncannily similar" to the man identified as the accused from other CCTV footage was captured at The Square in Tallaght attempting to withdraw cash from an ATM using the deceased's bank card.
The following day, Ms Noctor said, the accused travelled to Slane, Co Meath where he used Mr Artene Bob's ATM card to make two tap transactions at a Gala shop and a Topaz garage. There was further evidence, Ms Noctor said, that Mr Anghel was in possession of the deceased's phone.
Ms Noctor also told the jury that the accused lied to gardai when he was interviewed as a suspect for the murder of Mr Artene Bob.
Beyond reasonable doubt
Mr Dwyer said the prosecution has not proven beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Anghel went into Sean Walsh Park with the deceased. Nobody knows what happened to Mr Artene Bob between entering the park at about 1am and 7.30am when he was found, Mr Dwyer said. He added: "The prosecution floated a theory to you that Mr Anghel must have killed him, that is an invitation to speculate. They are inviting you to make jumps and draw inferences without fixing a basis for it, asking you to jump because the finger of guilt is pointing at him from the prosecution."
Mr Dwyer said the prosecution has not been able to establish who else was in the park at the relevant time and pointed out that forensic evidence, including DNA belonging to two unknown people on the deceased's glasses, suggested the presence of other people who were not the accused.
Mr Dwyer reminded the jury that the woman who found Mr Artene Bob still conscious but dying in the park asked him, "who did this to you?" The dying man responded by putting up four fingers in a gesture the witness interpreted as meaning that four people had attacked him.
Counsel said there are a lot of reasonably possible alternatives to the case put forward by the prosecution, including that the accused took Mr Artene Bob's bank card, left the park, and others then carried out the assault.
Mr Dwyer told the jury that they must set the same standard that they would want for themselves or their families if they were on trial. "The most important thing is to avoid a mistake that would lead to a wrongful conviction," he added.
Ms Justice Eileen Creedon will deliver her charge to the jury on Wednesday.