Dublin chip shop murder trial collapses over 'crucial' missing CCTV footage

Donal Colgan arriving at court today
Donal Colgan arriving at court today

A jury was discharged today after they discovered a 29-second gap in CCTV footage used during a murder trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Justice Carmel Stewart said the gap was not spotted by counsel for the prosecution or defence and that it could have been significant. The jury had described the missing footage as "crucial".

Donal Colgan (65), of Killarney Court, Killarney St, Dublin 1 had pleaded not guilty to murdering 45-year-old David Sheridan outside Luigi's chip shop on the capital's North Strand Road on August 17/18, 2014.

The jury had spent about three hours deliberating when they returned to court to ask about the missing 29 seconds. Justice Stewart sent the jurors away for about 90 minutes and when they returned she told them counsel for the prosecution and defence had examined the footage and confirmed the missing portion.

She said it was a "mistake" and added: "It now transpires that one of you has spotted what people in the trial had not spotted because we were not watching the clock in the corner."

She said it was a "significant" piece of time and told them that counsel for the defence Patrick Marrinan SC had applied to her to discharge the jury.

While she said that in extraordinary circumstances it is possible to call a witness at this point to introduce new evidence, that would not help in this case because all of the witnesses had given evidence on the basis that the CCTV footage was continuous.

She also said that counsel for the defence and prosecution had questioned witnesses on the basis that the footage was continuous.

Saying that fair procedure must apply, she added: "I have no option but to discharge you."

She thanked the jury for their diligence and exempted them from further jury duty for ten years.

Mr Colgan will return to court on December 19.

During five days of evidence, the jury heard that Mr Colgan and Mr Sheridan were involved in a row outside Luigi's chip shop on the night of August 17. Mr Colgan left the scene but returned about nine minutes later armed with a knife, which he used to stab Mr Sheridan.

The prosecution claimed that Mr Colgan returned to the scene of the fight armed with a knife and murdered David Sheridan.

Mr Marrinan asked the jury to consider that Mr Colgan had lost all self control after allegedly being attacked and knocked to the ground by Mr Sheridan and another man.

He also asked them to consider that he was acting in self defence having allegedly been struck with a bag of beer cans by Mr Sheridan.

Eoin Reynolds