First case set for new criminal courts

 

PEOPLE CHARGED with criminal offences will no longer be brought to court handcuffed and in public view after the new criminal courts complex opens for business. It has an underground holding area for up to 100 prisoners, who will now have separate entrances into each courtroom.

The complex, which features a central round hall four times the size of that in the Four Courts and seven storeys high, was revealed to journalists and photographers for the first time yesterday.

The first case will be heard later this week by Mr Justice Paul Carney in the Central Criminal Court. Michael Brennan is accused of attempting to murder James Egan on April 29th, 2006, at Cromcastle Court, Kilmore Road, Coolock.

The complex will become fully operational in January. It will then hear all criminal cases in Dublin, ranging from District Court remand hearings to the Court of Criminal Appeal and including the Circuit Criminal Court and the Central Criminal Court. It is expected to hear up to 200,000 cases a year.

The complex was built through a public-private partnership and will be managed on a 25-year contract, after which it will be handed over to the Courts Service. It cost €140 million to design and build, and came in three months ahead of schedule, according to Courts Service chief executive Brendan Ryan, who said the Four Courts was clearly unsuitable for criminal cases and its accommodation was needed for civil cases, to which it was more suited.

The complex has separate areas for prisoners, members of the public, juries and the judiciary.

Those called for jury service will report to a jury holding area, from where they will be empanelled and brought to the appropriate court. At no time will they have any contact with the public.

The complex has a suite for victims and victim support organisations and a room for children designed with the help of children’s charity Barnardos.

The complex contains accommodation for 150 barristers and offices for the Garda, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Probation Service, Law Society and management company as well as judges’ chambers and press rooms.

The District Court sittings will start on December 7th and all the other courts will start hearing cases on January 11th, 2010, after the complex’s official opening.