Case to move Garda corruption trial to Dublin set for January 20

Judge Tom O'Donnell

A motion to transfer the trial of four Gardai and a retired Garda Superintendent on corruption charges from Limerick to Dublin will be heard in Limerick Circuit Court on January 20.

The move to transfer the case is being made by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) over concerns about jury selection and previous media reports about the case.

During a brief hearing at Limerick Circuit Court today, Judge Tom O’Donnell said he would hear the application next Thursday week, and that “all replying affidavits must be be filed by close of business next Monday”.

The five defendants, who were returned for trial to Limerick Circuit Court last year, are alleged to have been involved in squaring away fixed charge penalty notices for a number of individuals, including a number of well-known personalities in sport, politics, and media.

The five accused, who face a total of 42 charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice, are: Retired Superintendent Eamon O’Neill, formerly Roxboro Road Garda Station; Sgt Michelle Leahy, Roxboro Road Garda Station; Sgt Anne-Marie Hassett; Kerry Garda Division, formerly Limerick; Garda Tom McGlinchey, Murroe Garda Station; and Garda Colm Geary, Clare Garda Division.

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Mr O’Neill is charged with 30 counts; Sgt Leahy, two counts; Garda McGlinchey, four counts; Garda Geary, three counts; and Sgt Hassett, three counts.

The charges relate to alleged incidents between October 9, 2016, and September 6, 2019, at various locations in Limerick and the wider Mid-West region.

Judge O’Donnell said he viewed the DPPs motion and affidavit for the first time today and in his view the DPP had two points of concern which involved media coverage of the case, as well as the fear of a risk to an impartial jury panel if the case remains in Limerick.

He was told that the hearing, which will be opposed by barristers for all of the five accused, will likely take two hours.

Judge O’Donnell said he wanted “to deal with this matter sooner rather than later” and that the adjournment of jury trials due to Covid-19 would allow ample time to hear the matter.

Each of the five accused is represented by both a Junior Counsel and a Senior Counsel, instructed by five solicitors, and Judge O’Donnell said the court could not exceed a total of 26 persons being in the courtroom during the hearing.

At a previous hearing before Limerick District Court, solicitor Dan O’Gorman, representing Mr O’Neill, said he would be  vigorously contesting all of the charges against his client.

The five accused were arrested on April 29, 2021, at Mayorstone Garda Station in Limerick.