High Court extends anonymity order of man convicted of Kevin Lunney kidnapping

In a ruling on Friday Mr Justice Charles Meenan agreed to extend the anonymity order until January 18th next.
High Court extends anonymity order of man convicted of Kevin Lunney kidnapping

An order preserving the anonymity of the man known as YZ convicted over his role in the kidnapping and seriously assault commited on businessman Kevin Lunney has been extended by the High Court.

In a ruling on Friday Mr Justice Charles Meenan agreed to extend the anonymity order until January 18th next.

The order was due to expire earlier this week, but the man's lawyers successfully applied to the Special Criminal Court for an extension for a week to allow them go to the High Court.

The High Court's decision means the man cannot be identified by the media when he returns before the Special Criminal Court on Monday when he and two others are due to be sentenced for the crimes they committed against Mr Lunney who is a director of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH).

The application to extend the order was brought to protect the man's rights to a fair trial. He has other unrelated criminal matters pending before the criminal courts.

He claims his naming by the media in reports which are likely to receive widespread coverage, could prejudice his rights to a fair trial before a judge and jury.

Temporary order

As a result of his concerns about getting a fair trial the man launched High Court judicial review proceedings against the DPP and the Special Criminal Court where he seeks orders including a temporary order extending his anonymity.

Michael O'Higgins SC for the man said that it is their case that the man's anonymity should be preserved until a date in mid-January at least, when it should be known when the trials of other pending matters are likely to be heard.

Counsel said there were concerns that the likely extensive media coverage his client is likely to get if he were to be named on Monday could "influence" members of a jury hearing unrelated and separate allegations against him.

Counsel said based on decisions made in other cases a fade factor of about six months, between the time of his client is sentenced when he is to go before a judge and jury in the other courts, was required.

The application was opposed by lawyers for the DPP. Sean Guerin SC for the DPP said the anonymity order should be lifted.

The order had been granted at a time when the man was facing trial before the Central Criminal Court. That prosecution was discontinued, counsel said.

However, the man had been tried and convicted before a criminal court and there is a fundament right of the media to publish the names of those convicted of crimes before the courts, bar in limited exceptional circumstances.

Publication counsel added is a "fundamental element of our Constitutional system of justice."

Widespread media coverage

Counsel said rather than seek to extend the order the man's lawyers should make an application to have the other trials heard in October 2022 which would be well beyond the accepted fade factor of six months.

In his decision Mr Justice Meenan accepted that the trial of those convicted of serious criminal offences against Mr Lunney had received widespread media coverage.

He added that it could be anticipated that next Monday's sentencing hearing would also receive widespread coverage in the media.

The judge also accepted that this was not a case where normally reporting restrictions would normally apply.

However, he was prepared to grant the man permission to bring his action and grant a temporary extension on the anonymity order.

The man's lawyers, he said, had made out an arguable case that his rights to a fair trial could be prejudiced if the order was removed.

However, he said that the case law was such that any interference with the accepted right of the public to know and the media to publish the names of those convicted before the courts should be "minimal."

The judge directed that the matter should return before him in mid-January.

While it depended on what dates those trials are fixed for, the Judge said that it may well be the case that a further extension of the anonymity order is required.

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