High Court to give judgment later this month on Breifne O’Brien trial application

Businessman Breifne O’Brien claims adverse publicity precludes possibility of a fair trial

Breifne O’Brien. Photograph: Collins Courts

Breifne O’Brien. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

The High Court will give judgment later this month on an application by businessman Breifne O’Brien aimed at permanently blocking his trial for offences including theft and deception.

Mr O’Brien, Kilmore, Monkstown Grove, Monkstown, Dublin, has claimed that he cannot get a fair trial because of significant amounts of adverse publicity he has received in both the print and broadcast media.

Mr O’Brien, who denies all of the charges against him, has been sent forward for trial before a judge and jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. The DPP has opposed the application and has argued that the trial should be allowed to proceed.

Following the conclusion of legal submissions by both the DPP and Mr O’Brien’s lawyers yesterday High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said he was reserving his decision. The judge said that he hoped to give judgment on May 16th next.

He is accused of 19 charges of theft involving sums totalling about €11 million from five individuals between 2006 and 2008 and another 19 charges involve alleged deception of the same people. A further seven charges of deception involving €1.9 million relate to one of those five people between 2003 and 2008.

In his High Court action Mr O’Brien (51) claims it is not possible for him to get a fair trial due to the adverse pre-trial publicity he has received and wants the court to make orders against the DPP including one permanently halting his prosecution.

His counsel, Patrick McGrath SC, has told the court that due to the volume of publicity, in both the print and broadcast media, he does not believe that it will be possible for his client to ever get a fair trial.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, represented by Siobhán Phelan, has opposed Mr O’Brien’s application. The DPP does not accept that Mr O’Brien is at risk of not getting a fair trial and argues the matter should proceed to trial before a judge and jury.

Yesterday Ms Phelan submitted that there was no reason for the High Court to prohibit the trial from going ahead. Counsel further submitted that issues raised by Mr O’Brien in the High Court were appropriate matters for the judge hearing the trial.