Only urgent Criminal Courts cases to go ahead in coming weeks - Courts Service

Special measures put in place to accommodate juries due to Covid-19/coronavirus

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Only urgent court cases to go ahead in coming weeks - Courts Service

The Four Courts, Dublin

Two juries have begun deliberations and two juries continue to hear evidence in four criminal trials which are ongoing in otherwise reduced court sittings in the capital.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions on social interactions the Courts Service have said that only urgent custody cases, or cases not involving witnesses, will go ahead in the coming weeks.

Today, Wednesday, March 18, the Courts of Criminal Justice building was quieter than usual with only four Dublin Circuit Criminal Court judges, about half the normal number, sitting.

In court five Judge Melanie Greally heard a short list of cases for arraignment and adjourned to June 15 all sentences where defendants are out on bail. These defendants were not present in court, having previously being told not they did not have to attend in light of the Covid19 restrictions. 

Judge Greally finalised the two cases which involved defendants who were in custody and dealt with a handful of other cases listed for mention.

Five cases, including one involving an allegation of dangerous driving causing serious harm, were listed to go on trial and Judge Karen O'Connor adjourned all these to June 19 next.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court President Patricia Ryan has directed that all non-custody matters listed for the Circuit Court for the rest of this term, other than ongoing trials, should be adjourned to dates in June and July.

The other two Circuit Criminal Court judges sitting are at trial. The jury in the trial of a care worker accused of sexual assault of children at a creche in Leinster have begun deliberations.

The jury has also gone out in the trial,  also at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, of a Monaghan man accused of sexual assaulting a number of juveniles.

The Courts Service have put in place special accommodations for juries that continue at trial. Jurors are now sitting spread out across the court room, rather than just in the jury box, in order to maintain the recommended social distancing.

In the cases where deliberations have begun jurors remained in the court room rather than retiring to the smaller jury room and the courtroom was otherwise cleared.

At the Central Criminal Court one jury continues to hear evidence in a rape trial while another jury is still hearing evidence in a murder trial. The jury in the trial of a husband accused of murdering his wife were discharged after three jurors contacted the court to indicate they were not in a position to attend.

Ms Justice Eileen Creedon said one of the three jurors will probably never be in a position to attend the trial, while the availability of the other two jurors is "unknown" and would not be clear for at least a week. Another murder trial is due to resume in evidence before a jury next Monday.