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New evidence delays trial of Irish Water protester

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Stephen Bennett
Stephen Bennett

New evidence has delayed the hearing of a protester believed to be the first person to go on trial for obstructing Irish Water.

Stephen Bennett, 44, of Pearse Green, Sallynoggin, Dublin has pleaded not guilty to a charge under the Water Service Act 2007, for obstructing the company exercising its powers, on October 21 last, at Villa Park Gardens, Cabra, Dublin 7.

His legal team have claimed this is a test case and among the first prosecutions brought under the Water Service Act.

The case is to be dealt with at district court level where it can result in a maximum €5,000 fine as well as a possible jail term of up to three months. His lawyers have also said this was a test case which raised constitutional arguments. The trial was due to get underway today.

However, defence counsel Karl Monahan told Judge James Faughnan at Dublin District Court that he has received additional disclosure from the State and time was needed to consider that.

He also said the prosecution would now have to be asked to provide further documentation.

Mr Monahan explained that the case related to a Irish Water protest and it was understood to be the first prosecution under the legislation.

Tony McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, said the State had no objection to an adjournment in the circumstances and a new trial date at the end of November was set.

Judge Faughnan ordered that three hours would be set aside to hear the case, adding that “if it is the first prosecutions there may be teething problems”.

It will be listed in early November for mention to confirm if witnesses will be available.

Mr Bennett , who did not address the court and was accompanied to the proceedings by a number of supporters, was remanded on continuing bail.