Man acquitted of IRA membership in Garda hotel surveillance trial

Accused walks free from court as he had only been charged with IRA membership

Corey Mulhall (41)  outside  court yesterday  where he  was found not guilty of  IRA in September 2012. Photograph: Courtpix

Corey Mulhall (41) outside court yesterday where he was found not guilty of IRA in September 2012. Photograph: Courtpix

Wed, Feb 12, 2014, 01:00

A man who admitted his part in a surveillance operation on the Dublin headquarters of a number of specialist Garda units has been acquitted of IRA membership by the Special Criminal Court. He was able to walk free yesterday as he had only been charged with IRA membership.

There was applause from the public gallery as the non-jury court delivered its judgment on the 10th day of the trial of Corey Mulhall. He had pleaded not guilty to IRA membership on September 26th, 2012.

Mr Mulhall (43), Daletree Court, Ballycullen, Dublin, had formally admitted taking photos of the Garda complex on Harcourt Square in September 2012 after booking a room in the nearby Harcourt Hotel under the name “Jason Egan”.

In the written admissions, Mr Mulhall said a named man had offered him money to take photos of a very tall garda, who drove a black Hyundai, on behalf of another unnamed man, who was in dispute with gardaí.

The court heard that Mr Mulhall lied to gardaí when he told them he had gone to the Harcourt Hotel to meet a “bird” whose name he did not know. He said he used a false name because he did not want his wife to find out. Throughout the interviews, Mr Mulhall consistently denied membership of the IRA.

The court heard evidence from Garda Chief Supt Kevin Donohoe, who told the court that on the basis of confidential information it was his belief that Mr Mulhall was a member of the IRA on the date in question.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler said the court was satisfied Chief Supt Donohoe was a person of integrity and much experience and accepted he held the belief expressed. However, he said the court would not convict on the basis of such a belief alone in the absence of some form of independent corroboration.

Mr Justice Butler said the court was satisfied that Mr Mulhall gave false answers and failed to answer a number of material questions put to him in Garda interview and it was entitled to draw inferences.

However, it noted that Mr Mulhall was entitled to the benefit of the doubt and, when two views on any part of the case were possible on the evidence, the court should adopt that which is favourable to the accused, unless the State had established the other beyond a reasonable doubt.

Mr Justice Butler said the court found the Mr Mulhall’s admission that he was offered money by a named man to take photographs of a “very tall guard” could be a reasonable possible alternative explanation for the failure and refusal to answer material questions.

He said that the court must have some reasonable doubt as to whether he was in an unlawful organisation and it would therefore acquit Mr Mulhall.

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