'Temporary relaxation' | 

Judge relaxes murder accused barrister’s bail conditions for ‘holiday’

Father-of-four Keith Conlon died after he was shot at at barrister Diarmuid Rossa Phelan's farmland in south Dublin

Diarmuid Rossa Phelan (53)

Andrew PhelanIndependent.ie

A judge has allowed a temporary relaxation of bail, allowing a barrister who is facing a murder charge to take two short holidays.

Barrister Diarmuid Rossa Phelan (53), a law professor, is charged with murdering father-of-four Keith Conlon on Mr Phelan’s farmland in February.

Today, a judge said bail conditions preventing Mr Phelan returning to his Dublin farm could not be lifted at district court level and his application would have to go back to the Court of Appeal.

However, Judge Bryan Smyth did allow a temporary relaxation of bail for two “short domestic holidays.”

He adjourned the case for the preparation of a book of evidence after hearing formal directions had been given for trial, and no further charges were being brought.

Mr Phelan is charged with murdering Mr Conlon at Hazelgrove Farm, Kiltalown Lane, Tallaght, on February 22.

Mr Conlon, a dog breeder from Kiltalown Park in Tallaght, was seriously injured in an incident on Mr Phelan's land at the foot of the Dublin Mountains and was pronounced dead in hospital two days later.

The High Court had refused Mr Phelan bail in March, but the following month the Court of Appeal overturned that decision and released him on a €100,000 bond with conditions.

Among the terms were a nightly curfew at an approved address and a requirement to sign on daily at a garda station.

He was also to stay out of Tallaght and his properties in Wexford.

Today, the defence applied for a temporary variation of bail for two two-day domestic holidays on dates later this month. The prosecution consented to this.

Defence barrister Karl Monahan said the accused was seeking other variations related to hours of curfew and the accused’s "urgent need" to return to his farm in Tallaght.

Mr Phelan, a farmer, also wished to return to a farm in Wexford, Mr Monahan said.

The court heard there were "strenuous objections" by the prosecution.

Today, Mr Monahan argued that the order of the Court of Appeal provided for applications to vary bail being brought before the district court. Section 6 of the Bail Act was no barrier to the jurisdiction of the district court, he said.

Prosecuting barrister Jane McGowan said it was “quite clear” under the Bail Act that any substantive variations ought to return to the court that granted bail, in this case the Court of Appeal.

The nature of the variations being sought, in applying to return to the locus of the alleged crime itself and to vary curfew were “substantive applications,” she said.

Judge Smyth said he had read a transcript of what Mr Justice George Bermingham had said in the earlier Court of Appeal hearing.

Judge Smyth said that from this, it seemed to him that if there was agreement to bail variations, it could be dealt with in the district court but where it was not on consent, it should go back to the Court of Appeal.

Garda Sergeant Michael McGrath said the DPP had formally directed that the case was to be dealt with on indictment in the Central Criminal Court.

No further charges had been directed by the DPP, he said. He sought a four-week adjournment for the preparation of a book of evidence.

The judge granted the agreed variations and remanded the accused on continuing bail to October 3.

Mr Phelan did not address the court during the hearing.

At a previous stage, the bail proceedings heard he allegedly shot a dog using his rifle and when the dog owner and his companions remonstrated, he had taken the revolver and fired three shots in their direction.

Mr Phelan had claimed he was under various threats at the farm, that hearing was told.

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