Man who shot and killed elderly woman in Tallaght loses appeal

Timothy Rattigan
Timothy Rattigan

A man jailed for life for the shooting of a 65-year-old grandmother in Tallaght 12 years ago, has lost an application to have his conviction declared a miscarriage of justice.

Timothy Rattigan (36), of St Dominick’s Terrace, Tallaght, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of mother-of-five Joan Casey at Avonbeg Park, in Tallaght on April 3rd, 2004.

He was found guilty by a jury at the Central Criminal Court and was given the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Paul Carney on July 8, 2005.

Mrs Casey was shot through the door of her bedroom at her home. The jury heard during the trial that her killing may have been a case of mistaken identity and that the intended victim may have been her son, Gerard.

Rattigan had applied to have his conviction declared a miscarriage of justice on the basis of an alleged new or newly discovered arising out of a 2012 Supreme Court decision known as 'Damache'.

His barrister, Ken Fogarty SC, submitted to the Court of Appeal that evidence from a search of Rattigan's house and his arrest on foot of the search would have been rendered inadmissible by the 'Damache' judgment which found section 29 search warrants to be repugnant to the Constitution.

In seeking to dismiss his bid, counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Tara Burns SC, said Rattigan's application was “bound to fail” and was “simply unarguable”.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice George Birmingham the Court of Appeal had “no hesitation” in acceding to the DPP's motion to dismiss the proceedings brought by Rattigan.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the Court of Appeal was in “complete agreement” with the reasons and conclusions reached by its predecessor in the 2014 McKevitt case where it was held that a Supreme Court judgment handed down years after a case had finalised could not be considered as a new or newly discovered fact.

Since Rattigan had initiated his application, the Supreme Court had delivered judgment in a case known as 'JC'.

Mr Justice Birmigham, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the court did not need to address this matter in a situation where issues before it were “very clear cut” and there was no doubt that Rattigan's application would have been “bound to fail”.

At trial, defence counsel raised an issue as to the validity of search warrants contending that they were invalid as they weren't issued by independent persons. Defence counsel were anticipating arguments that would eventually find favour with the majority of the Sureme Court in 'Damache'.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the trial judge had rejected the arguments which was not surprising given the state of the law as it was at the time – it enjoyed a presumption of Constitutionality.

It was to be noted, the judge said, that although his lawyers presented arguments that forshadowed the Supreme Court's judgment, Rattigan, unlike Damache, had not challenged the Constitutionality of the serach warrants.