Ballymun man whose layers claimed State ‘cleansed’ jury has appeal dismissed
A Ballymun man, whose lawyers claimed his trial for attempted robbery was unfair because the State “cleansed” the jury of people from Ballymun, Cabra and Finglas, has had an appeal against conviction dismissed.
Joesph Warren (32), of Belclare Crescent, Ballymun, had pleaded not guilty to conspiring to steal cash from Chubb Ireland at Tesco supermarket on the Shackleton Road in Cellbridge on November 2, 2007. Warren had earlier pleaded guilty to possessing ammunition at Poppintree Park, Ballymun on July 19, 2009.
A jury at Dublin Circuit Court found Warren guilty of conspiring to steal and he was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment with the final three suspended by Judge Patrick McCartan on November 14, 2012.
The Court of Appeal heard that the attempted robbery was carried out by a gang of four men all from an area “in or around Finglas” lead by the late Eamon Dunne - who had family living in Cabra.
Dismissing the appeal today, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said Warren had been identified in 2010 as a pall bearer at the funeral of Mr Dunne. This was indicative of a close relationship with the men involved and was inconsistent with a contention that Warren's involvement in the offence was involuntary.
Mr Justice Mahon said prosecutors had requested that jurors from Ballymun, Finglas and Cabra be excluded from service on the basis that the accused were strongly associated with these areas and jurors from these areas might not be impartial.
Warren's barrister, Michael Bowman SC, submitted that the Director of Public Prosecutions “cleansed” the jury of people from three geographical locations in Dublin – Cabra, Ballymun and Finglas because the DPP had “no confidence” in the impartiality of people from these three areas.
Mr Bowman said the only reason a juror could be excluded from serving was in accordance with the 1976 Juries Act, which provides for seven objections without reason and as many objections as reasons or causes could be identified.
Objections to individual jurors were a regular occurence and were supposed to be made transparently in open court, Mr Bowman said.
But in Warren's case the DPP manifestly transgressed this procedure by telling up to 15 potential jurors “downstairs” that they could not even “enter the room”.
Mr Justice Mahon said the task of empanelling juries was an important one and, not infrequently, there were practical problems to overcome. Central to the process was jury impartiality.
It was noteworthy, the judge said, that the three areas represented a selection of the population of Dublin from a hand-picked pool.
He said it was a pragmatic exercise in case management and the decision was within the judge's discretion.
Mr Justice Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, said the Circuit Court judge acted appropriately and was entitled to make what was a practical and sensible decision.
In due course, the judge said, Warren accepted that he had been found guilty after a very fair trial - a matter, prosecutors had unsuccessfully argued, should have precluded him from raising the jury matter in his appeal against conviction.