Trial of businessman and former councillors collapses

Director of Public Prosecutions will not proceed with cases of alleged bribery over rezoning

Frank Dunlop arriving at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Monday. Photograph: Collins Courts

Frank Dunlop arriving at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Monday. Photograph: Collins Courts

Wed, Jul 24, 2013, 14:25

A corruption trial against businessman Jim Kennedy, a councillor and two former councillors has collapsed.

The Director of Public Prosecutions entered a nolle prosequi in the case this morning, meaning she no longer intends to pursue the charges. The key witness in the case, former lobbyist Frank Dunlop had a health condition that meant he could not continue giving evidence.

Mr Kennedy (66), with an address at Queen’s Quay, Gibraltar, denied giving Mr Dunlop IR£25,000 in 1991 to bribe councillors to vote in favour of rezoning land at Carrickmines in Dublin.

He had pleaded not guilty to charges of corruption in connection with the rezoning.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown councillor Tony Fox (72) of Mountainview Park, Churchtown, Dublin and former councillors Colm Mc Grath (56) of Swiftwood, Saggart, Liam Cosgrave (57) of Merrion Park, Blackrock, had also pleaded not guilty to corruptly receiving money as inducements to rezone the lands from agricultural to industrial.

On Monday, the jury was told the case against former senator and councillor Don Lydon would not be continuing. Mr Lydon (71), of Santo Antonio, Stillorgan Park Avenue, had pleaded not guilty to receiving money from Mr Dunlop in connection with Carrickmines in October 1997 when he was a councillor in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.

Sean Gillane SC, for the DPP, told the court he wanted to enter a nolle prosequi against the defendants and also against Mr Lydon.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring told the jury of seven women and four men that the decision to withdraw the case would bring matters against the defendants to an end. She said it was for the DPP to decide to take that step “in light of all the circumstances”.

She thanked the jury and said it was unfortunate they and the community had been involved in a trial that had come to an end in the way this trial had. She also remarked on the cost of travelling to the trial when jurors were not entitled to expenses.

Mr Dunlop, who had served a term in prison for 16 counts of corruption in relation to Carrickmines, had earlier given evidence that he paid a total of IR£19,000 to Mr Lydon, Mr Fox, Mr Cosgrave and Mr McGrath in connection with the rezoning of the Carrickmines land.

The trial had been due to complete by August 2nd despite an earlier break of a week due to Mr Dunlop’s ill health.

Mr Dunlop returned to give evidence in the case on Monday, but after a morning of cross-examination, asked to be excused.

Mr Gilliane had initially told the court he would ask for the jury to be discharged and the case re-entered with a new jury in the autumn.

But following a further medical report and a brief adjournment, the DPP took the decision that the case could not continue.

The collapse of the case means the final chapter of the Mahon tribunal report, which examined planning corruption in Dublin, can be published. It had been withheld when the report was published last year pending completion of the criminal case.