FOUR Gardaí and a retired Superintendent, charged in connection with an investigation into the alleged squaring away of traffic fines, have been granted an extension of free legal aid to cover the cost of a third barrister to their defence team.
All five are facing trial at the Limerick Circuit Criminal Court on a total of 42 counts of allegedly attempting to pervert the course of justice.
An application, brought by the State, to have the trial relocated to Dublin, was refused at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court last year.
Earlier today (Tuesday), Circuit Court Judge Tom O’Donnell granted an application for the five accused to be assigned a “documentary junior counsel” to examine a substantial amount of evidence disclosed by the prosecution.
The five defendants had previously been granted free legal aid for a senior and junior counsel at their trial, for which no date has yet been fixed.
It was agreed by all parties, including the Director of Public Prosecutions, that the addition of the documentary counsel would greatly assist in bringing the case forward.
Judge O’Donnell was told that electronic and mobile phone evidence was a significant matter in the case.
The judge said he may have to consider sitting outside of the normal court term to deal with any pre-trial matters, as the court was already dealing with a significant number of cases.
He asked all parties try to narrow any issues at stake “in an effort to get this case moved on in the interests of everyone involved”.
The 42 charges against the five accused are alleged to have occurred between October 9, 2016, and September 6, 2019.
The five accused are retired Superintendent Edmond “Eamon” O’Neill, (56); Garda Colm Geary (36); Sergeant Annemarie Hassett, (39); Sergeant Michelle Leahy, (47) and Garda Thomas McGlinchey.
Mr O’Neill is facing 30 out of the 42 charges; Sgt Leahy (two charges); Sgt Hassett (three charges); Garda McGlinchey (four charges); Garda Geary (three charges).