Businessman claims publicity prevents fair trial

 

Businessman Breifne O’Brien has claimed he cannot get a fair trial on theft and deception charges because of adverse publicity.

The Cork-born financial adviser was yesterday given permission by the High Court to bring proceedings aimed at preventing his trial arising from publicity in both print and broadcast media.

He faces 45 charges of theft and deception over an alleged investment fraud.

The District Court heard last September that 19 charges of theft involve sums totalling around €11 million from five individuals between 2006 and 2008, while another 19 charges involve alleged deception of the same people.

Deception

A further seven charges of deception involving €1.9 million relate to one of those five people between 2003 and 2008.

Last November, he was sent forward for trial to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Mr O’Brien (51), who denies the charges, claims it is not possible to get a fair trial due to adverse pre-trial publicity, Mr Justice Michael Peart was told yesterday.

Patrick McGrath, for Mr O’Brien, said the adverse publicity arose out of the alleged facts in the criminal case against him and from proceedings in the Commercial Court concerning him.

Mr O’Brien, Kilmore, Monkstown Grove, Monkstown, Dublin, is due to appear in the Circuit Court tomorrow when the case is for mention but so far no date for trial has been set, counsel said.

There was a “lengthy history” of newspaper clippings about him, counsel said. While it had not been possible to obtain the clippings themselves, his side had exhibited what was said about him in those articles using an online archive site, HighBeam Research.

Mr Justice Peart granted the ex parte application (one side only represented) for leave to bring judicial review proceedings aimed at prohibiting the trial.

The question of a postponement, or stay, on the trial could be dealt with when the matter comes back before the court in March, the judge said.

Mr O’Brien was not in court yesterday.