A Circuit Court judge has lifted a gagging order imposed by a District Court judge to prevent the naming of a garda charged with false imprisonment and sexual assault.
William Ryan (35), who is stationed at Aughrim Garda Station in Co Wicklow, is charged with falsely imprisoning the woman and three counts of sexual assault at Aughrim Garda Station on September 29th, 2020.
He also faces an allegation of false imprisonment of the woman at the same place and on the same date. The fifth charge is for engaging in offensive conduct of a sexual nature at another location in Leinster between August 23rd, 2019, and February 25th 2021.
At a hearing on Thursday, a trial date was set for June 4th, 2024.
Last October, on foot of an application by defence solicitor Martin Moran at Dublin District Court, Judge Treasa Kelly ordered that the man’s name or occupation were not to be published.
Lawyers for several media organisations brought an application to have the order lifted, but Judge Kelly refused to do this. She sent the case forward to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for trial.
No basis to restrict identification
At the first Circuit Court appearance last week Tom Murphy BL, for the press organisations, said that there was no basis to restrict the identification of this defendant and that the defence had failed to put forward any grounds of substance to justify doing so.
He said that the defendant's personal right to privacy was not a basis for restricting the Constitutional right for justice to be done in public.
He said that it was “very clear” from previous judgements that there were only two grounds for imposing reporting restrictions. He said the first was legislative provisions restricting publication and the second was where there is a real identifiable risk of an unfair trial arising from publication.
He said there was no evidence that identifying this accused would impair his right to a fair trial. He said that the rights of the media have been, and continue to be, restricted since October.
The court has heard that the reporting of the defendant's name will not give rise to identification of the complainant, which would be the grounds for an anonymity order.
Judge Melanie Greally adjourned the matter for a ruling this week to allow time to consider the arguments submitted and the relevant case law.
On Thursday morning she said that the reporting restrictions were granted on the basis of the privacy rights of the defendant and the sensitive nature of the case.
She said that neither of these were a recognised basis for reporting restrictions. She said that there was no evidence that Mr Ryan's right to a fair trial would in way be impeded by the publication of his name.
She ordered that the restrictions be lifted. After lawyers for Mr Ryan submitted that the media organisations should have appealed the district court order rather than applying to the circuit court, Judge Greally said that she “habitually” lifted orders made in the lower court.
The application was brought by RTÉ, Independent News and Media, The Irish Times and the Daily Mail Group.