A motion by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) seeking to transfer a trial out of Limerick of four serving gardaí and a retired Garda Superintendent, who are charged in connection with a corruption in office investigation, will be heard on January 20th before Limerick Circuit Court.
On Monday the hearing was fixed for two weeks time. It is being brought by the DPP over its concerns about jury selection and previous media reportage about the case.
During a brief “for mention” hearing today at Limerick Circuit Court, the presiding judge, Tom O’Donnell, said he would hear the DPP’s application and opposition to it, next Thursday week, and that “all replying affidavits must be filed by close of business next Monday”.
The DPP is seeking to move the trial to Dublin Circuit Court.
The five defendants, who were returned for trial to Limerick Circuit Court last year, are alleged to have been involved in squaring away fixed charge penalty notices for a number of individuals, including a number of well-known personalities in sport, politics, and media.
The five accused, who face a total of 42 charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice, are: Retired Superintendent Eamon O’Neill, formerly Roxboro Road Garda Station; Sgt Michelle Leahy, Roxboro Road Garda Station; Sgt Anne-Marie Hassett; Kerry Garda Division, formerly Limerick; Garda Tom McGlinchey, Murroe Garda Station; and Garda Colm Geary, Clare Garda Division.
Mr O’Neill is charged with 30 counts; Sgt Leahy, two counts; Garda McGlinchey, four counts; Garda Geary, three counts; and Sgt Hassett, three counts.
The charges relate to alleged incidents between October 9th, 2016, and September 6th, 2019, at various locations in Limerick and the wider Mid-West region.
Judge O’Donnell said he viewed the DPPs motion and affidavit “for the first time today”, and that in his view the DPP had two net points of concern, which involved “media attention” of the case, as well as the DPP’s fear of a “risk” to an “impartial jury panel, if matters remain here (in Limerick)”.
The court heard that the hearing, which will be “opposed” by barristers for all of the five accused, will likely take two hours.
Judge O’Donnell said he wanted “to deal with this matter sooner rather than later” and that the adjournment of jury trials due to Covid-19 would allow the court ample time to hear the matter.
Each of the five accused is represented by both a Junior Counsel and a Senior Counsel, instructed by five solicitors in total, and Judge O’Donnell said the court could not exceed a total of 26 persons being in the courtroom during the hearing, due to Covid-19 guidelines.
At a previous hearing before Limerick District Court, solicitor Dan O’Gorman, representing Mr O’Neill, said he would be “vigorously contesting” all of the charges against his client.
The arrest and charge of the five accused resulted following a prolonged investigation by the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investiagtion (GNBCI) into the alleged attempted squaring away of traffic offences.
The five accused were arrested on April 29th, 2021, at Mayorstone Garda Station, Limerick, and they did not make any reply when charged.