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us citizen Barrister who allegedly shot dad dead will have 'life's work wiped out' if not bailed court hears

'I want to clear this matter because my entire name, reputation and career is dependent on it'


Diarmuid Rossa Phelan

Diarmuid Rossa Phelan

Diarmuid Rossa Phelan

A leading barrister, who is accused of murdering a father-of-four in a fatal shooting after an alleged altercation on farmland in Tallaght, will be "completely and utterly ruined" and his "life's work wiped out" if he is not granted bail, his lawyers have argued at the High Court.

Defence counsel Michael O'Higgins SC submitted to the court today that his client Diarmuid Rossa Phelan - who is a senior counsel and law lecturer - is a person who has a greater understanding of having to meet a court order "rather than 99.9 per cent of the population".

"He stands for something, he has achieved something over the decades and that must count for something," emphasised counsel.

Mr Phelan, who gave evidence for a second day via video-link, told Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy that he has no intention of leaving the jurisdiction, saying: "I want to clear this matter because my entire name, reputation and career is dependent on it".

The High Court has heard that Mr Phelan has assets valued in the millions, while during his evidence to the court yesterday, gardai learned for the first time that the accused is a US citizen and has property in Colorado.

Ms Justice Murphy will deliver a decision on Monday on the accused's application to be granted bail.

Mr Phelan (53), of Kiltalown Lane, Tallaght, Co Dublin is accused of the murder of Keith Conlon (36) at Hazelgrove Farm, Kiltalown Lane, Tallaght, on February 22 last.

Mr Conlon, from Kiltalown Park in Tallaght, was severely injured in the shooting incident and died at Tallaght University Hospital two days later. The High Court heard yesterday that a witness told gardai that Mr Phelan allegedly shot Mr Conlon, who was unarmed, in the back of the head as he turned to run away after an altercation on farmland at the foot of the Dublin mountains last month.

The court also heard, however, that the senior lawyer told gardai in interview that he believed he was under threat at the time and was "terrified".

The High Court also heard on Tuesday it would be alleged that Mr Phelan had first "deliberately shot" Mr Conlon's dog with a legally held rifle without any forewarning.

A witness told gardai that the accused then fired three shots from a licensed revolver following a "verbal altercation", with the final shot hitting the deceased in the back of the head after he had turned to run away, the court also heard.

Mr O'Higgins has told the court that the tenor of Mr Phelan's statement to gardai was that the shooting was an accident, where he had crossed the gun over from left to right in an arc and was "stunned" by Mr Conlon's injury.

At yesterday's bail hearing, Detective Garda Mick McGrath from Tallaght Garda Station told Jane McGowan BL for the State, that gardai were objecting to bail under the “O’Callaghan principles”, where it was argued the accused is a likely flight risk.

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There was also an objection to bail under Section 2 of the Bail Act, which allows the refusal of bail if the court is satisfied such a refusal is necessary to prevent the accused committing a serious offence while on bail.

At the outset of the resumed bail hearing today, Ms Justice Murphy said that having reflected on matters overnight she wanted to put a number of questions to Mr Phelan.

The judge began by asking Mr Phelan, who was on a video-link, what size were the farms he owned in Tallaght and Wexford. The accused said the farm in Tallaght is approximately 180 acres and the farm in Wexford is 45 acres.

"And their value?" asked Ms Justice Murphy. "I don't know judge, certainly I would think the farm in Wexford is €10,000 an acre but the farm in Tallaght is very unclear, it is very mixed land and hard to value," replied the defendant.

"But what did you pay for it?" pressed the judge. Mr Phelan said it was bought in a series of transactions.

Ms Justice Murphy put it to the accused that she presumed the lands had developmental value. "Unfortunately not at the moment; it would be worth €1.8 [million] at least," said the accused.

The court heard that the Tallaght farm is held in Northern Ireland with a company called Sagacious Investment Ltd and Mr Phelan said the farm in Wexford is held through "EUSA Ltd".

Mr Phelan was asked by the judge about his residence in Dublin and he said it was held in his name with an approximate value of between €900,000 and one million.

The judge asked the accused if he could sell both farms by selling the companies. Mr Phelan said the farms are held in trust for the benefit of his children. "The land in Tallaght is in various arrangements," he added.

"Is the company the owner or not?" asked the judge. "Yes, the company is the legal owner but not the beneficial owner of all the lands," he replied.

The judge also put it to the accused it would appear there were "ongoing difficulties" since he bought the lands in Tallaght as he had made 22 complaints to gardai. Mr Phelan agreed with this statement.

Ms Justice Murphy further put it to the accused that he had made reference to being "terrified" on February 22 and asked him if he was "terrified" of any potential repercussions arising out of these events. "Yes, there have been threats made and my family is very concerned as am I,'' he replied.

The judge asked the accused whether it might be more attractive for him to leave the jurisdiction. "No judge, I have no intention of leaving the jurisdiction for many reasons. I want to clear this matter because my entire name, reputation and career is dependent on it. I can't leave the jurisdiction as my young family are based here," he replied.

The judge suggested to Mr Phelan that his children could leave the jurisdiction with him as he is an American citizen and asked if his children had American citizenship. "Yes, they do," he replied.

Following this, defence counsel Michael O'Higgins SC said there were one or two discrete issues that his client wanted to give evidence on. The barrister asked the accused about his bank commitments and mortgages. Mr Phelan said he had a seven-figure mortgage commitment but told the court that it was "hard to make ends meet at the moment".

He added: "There is no prospect of being able to cover the current outgoing through the sale of assets as it would take far too long. I've no intention of disposing of assets, I would not be able to make the payments for my mother in the event my Trinity salary goes by the wayside. If I can't generate money I will have difficulty making mortgage repayments as it is."

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