Armed burglars who attacked man with meat clever have appeals dismissed

Alan Wilson
Alan Wilson

Two men jailed for attacking a man with a meat clever, after breaking into his home in 2009, have had appeals against their convictions dismissed.

Dublin men David Crowley (38), of New Bride Street and Alan Wilson (36), of New Street Gardens had pleaded not guilty to trespass while committing assault causing harm at Dromheath Drive in Blanchardstown on June 3, 2009.

Crowley also denied a second charge of unlawfully possessing a firearm on the same occasion.

Having been found guilty by a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Crowley was sentenced to eight years imprisonment and Wilson seven years imprisonment by Judge Desmond Hogan on April 12 2013.

On day three of the men's trial it emerged that a member of the jury, on leaving court, had stopped to light a cigarette and was searching in his pocket for a lighter when Crowley approached him “innocently” and “generously gave him a lighter”, according to his barrister James O'Brien SC.

The incident was described by the jury as a “jaw dropping moment”, Mr O'Brien had said, and he submitted that the jury should have been discharged.

Dismissing this ground of appeal today, Mr Justice George Birmingham said the trial judge dealt with this incident “in a careful manner” and correctly addressed his mind as to whether there was a risk of unfairness.

The Court of Appeal heard that Wilson was arrested wearing a bulletproof vest and his barrister, Padraig Dwyer SC, submitted that this evidence should not have been admitted because it played no role in the factual matrix of events.

Mr Justice Birmingham said it was possible to imagine cases where wearing a bulletproof vest was so far removed from the charge that evidence of it should be excluded.

However, in an incident which involved the discharging of a shotgun it was probative, he said.

Dismissing further grounds of appeal, Mr Justice Birmingham said the admission of statements by witnesses who later resiled from what they had said was also appropriate and the trial judge was entitled to admit their original statements into evidence.

The evidence of one of those witnesses – the victim's former partner Lisa Murray - overruled any contention that the pair were acting in self defence, Mr Justice Birmingham said, because she stated that the meat clever had not come from her house.

That the weapon was brought to the house was also a relevant consideration for the jury to adduce that Crowley and Wilson were trespassers, the judge said.

Accordingly, Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan and Mr Justice John Edwards, confirmed their convictions and dismissed the appeal.

Wilson will appeal his sentence at a later date.

The court heard that he will claim entitlement to time spent in custody while awaiting trial for an alleged murder for which he was subsequently acquitted.