IRA conviction appeal dismissed

Tue, Jul 28, 2009, 01:00

The Court of Criminal Appeal has dismissed a Co Cork chef’s appeal against his conviction for membership of the IRA.

The three judge court ruled today the conviction imposed on Don Bullman, who was arrested in the course of a Garda investigation into IRA money-laundering following the 2004 Northern Bank robbery, is safe.

Bullman (34), a chef and father of two, Leghanamore, Wilton, Co Cork, was jailed in March 2007 for four years at the non-jury Special Criminal Court after he was found guilty of membership of the IRA on February 16th, 2005.

The Special Criminal Court was told Bullman was found in possession of a washing-powder box containing€94,250 after his arrest outside Heuston Station in Dublin following a garda surveillance operation. Bullman denied in interviews with gardaí he was a member of the IRA or had any involvement in its activities.

Bullman appealed against conviciton on grounds including the court had erred in drawing inferences “consistent with guilt” from his activities at Heuston station.

Bullman argued the prosecution had not produced evidence at his trial of any illegal activity, such as money laundering, taking place prior to his arrest at Heuston Station. It was argued Bullman was convicted only of IRA membership and had not been charged with or accused of any other offence.

The Special Criminal Court had also erred by drawing an adverse inference from Bullman’s associations with individuals alleged to be involved in the IRA and by not ruling his constitutional right to silence had been breached, it was argued.

It was further argued Bullman’s detention by gardai at Heuston Station in the period prior to his arrest was unlawful and that the court erred in relying upon belief evidence of an assistant Commissioner of the Garda Siochána.

Today, the Court of Criminal Appeal, with Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan presiding and sitting with Mr Justice Declan Budd and Mr Justice Michael Hanna, dismissed all grounds of the appeal.

Mr Justice Finnegan said the court was satisfied Bullman’s rights had not been breached and the Special Criminal Court was entitled to make the findings it had.

Following the decision on conviction, counsel for Bullman said his client wished to withdraw his appeal against sentence.