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Cameron Blair trial Witness who flew to Ayia Napa when due to give evidence jailed over 'blatant' contempt of court

The judge said O'Connor, who admitted the offence of contempt of court today, had made a "calculated and deliberate" decision to prioritise his "holiday decisions over legal obligations"


Cameron Blair

Cameron Blair

Cameron Blair

A "blatant" contempt of court by a witness who travelled to Ayia Napa when he was due to give evidence in the trial of a teenager who committed violent disorder at the Cameron Blair murder scene has seen him jailed for two months.

Sentencing Darragh O'Connor at the Central Criminal Court today, Mr Justice David Keane said the contempt of court in this case was "blatant and premeditated" and its consequences could only be viewed as "serious" as it had "plainly disrupted" the conduct of a trial.

The judge said O'Connor, who admitted the offence of contempt of court today, had made a "calculated and deliberate" decision to prioritise his "holiday decisions over legal obligations".

A message must go out to every court in the land, Mr Justice Keane stressed, that failure to comply with witness summons and the inevitable disruptions that this causes is "a cause of action that cannot be tolerated".

It was the State's belief that O'Connor (20), of Deermount, Deerpark, Cork and his co-accused had left the jurisdiction in order to avoid giving evidence at the trial of a 16-year-old accused.

O'Connor and Craig O'Donoghue (20) were served with witness orders last May, which required them to give evidence at the juvenile's trial last month. However, they travelled to Ayia Napa at the end of May and were not available to give evidence.

On May 28, a 16-year-old accused who cannot be named because he is a minor, went on trial charged with the production of a knife at a house on Bandon Road in Cork city on January 16, 2020. He had been on trial at the Central Criminal Court, which was sitting in Croke Park, for almost three weeks before the case ended last month.

On June 16, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) discontinued the charge against the teenager and will enter a nolle prosequi against him in due course meaning that the State will not be proceeding with the charge of producing a knife against the juvenile.

The accused, who was 14 at the time of the incident, had pleaded not guilty to producing an article capable of inflicting serious injury in the course of a dispute, to wit a knife, in a manner likely to unlawfully intimidate another person.

Before the State opened its case on May 28, the 16-year-old boy pleaded guilty to committing violent disorder with two other persons present together, using or threatening to use unlawful violence, and such conduct taken together would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at Bandon Road in Cork city to fear for his or another person's safety at the said place on the same occasion.

The DPP said it was not proceeding with the count of possession of a knife in circumstances where the accused accepted he was in possession of a butter knife during the course of events on the evening.

The 16-year-old is expected to be sentenced at the Central Criminal Court on July 23.

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Counsel for the teenager, Timothy O'Leary SC, had told the trial court that he would have required the two witnesses who had travelled to Ayia Napa "in relation to my defence".

Cameron was a native of Ballinascarthy in west Cork and a second-year chemical engineering student at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT). He died at Cork University Hospital (CUH) on January 16, 2020 after being stabbed in the neck while attending a student party at a house in Cork city. Another juvenile has already pleaded guilty to his murder.

The sentence hearing for Darragh O'Connor's co-accused Mr O'Donoghue, of Killala Court, Knocknaheeney, Cork was also expected to take place today but the court was told that he has tested positive for Covid-19. A production order for Mr O'Donoghue was made for next Wednesday and "if matters allow" the court will then proceed to a hearing.

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