Veronica Guerin's killer fails to have murder conviction declared miscarriage of justice

Brian Meehan
Brian Meehan

The Court of Appeal has dismissed as an “abuse of process” Brian Meehan's bid to have his conviction for murdering journalist Veronica Guerin declared a miscarriage of justice.

Meehan (47), from Crumlin in Dublin, is serving a life sentence in Portlaoise prison having being convicted by the non-jury Special Criminal Court in July 1999 of the murder of Ms Guerin in June 1996 following a 31-day-trial. He was also jailed on drugs and firearms charges.

Meehan has applied to quash his 1999 murder conviction on the basis of alleged new or newly discovered facts.

He contended that the alleged new evidence concerned matters which emerged in the course of the 2001 Special Criminal Court trial of John Gilligan at the close of which Mr Gilligan was ultimately acquitted of Ms Guerin's murder.

Dismissing Meehan's application under section 2 of hte Criminal Procedure Act today/yesterday(MONDAY), Mr Justice George Birmingham said Meehan's choices on how he conducted his earlier appeal in 2006 had "consequences".

It was abundantly clear, Mr Justice Birmingham said, that all of the material Meehan was seeking to rely upon was available, at the latest, from the time of the Gilligan trial in 2001 and that the arguments he now presented had been formulated in detail by 2003.

He chose not to present those arguments in his appeal before the Court of Criminal Appeal.

The choices he made as to how to conduct his appeal had “consequences”.

To formulate grounds and arguments, not proceed with them and then seek to resurrect the same grounds and arguments four and half years on as new facts is “quite unacceptable and, indeed, in the view of the court amounts to an abuse of process”.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the application had “morphed” from one based on alleged nondisclosure to one that is critical of his previous lawyers.

Where Meehan had to accept there had been disclosure, “he retreats” to a situation of saying his lawyers at trial did not appreciate the significance of the material that was disclosed. There was no evidence to support that proposition whatsoever.

His position toward his court of criminal appeal legal team was "even more extreme". In effect, Meehan said the decision not to proceed with the motion to admit new evidence from the Gilligan and Ward trial transcripts was " contrary to his instructions".

Having criticised both sets of lawyers he then criticised the solicitor who lodged his section 2 application for not pursuing it with the required vigour.

All the material that was now in issue was available at the time of the appeal against conviction but was not utilised.

He said he never wished to drop his motion to adduce additional evidence but his then lawyers told him he had to. Although no affidavit was provided by the solicitor who acted for him in the appeal.

“Having one's instructions terminated in one of the highest profile murder cases in the history of the state is not something that would be forgotten easily, even with the passage of time.”