Mid-2017 start for David Drumm trial a real possibility

Court hears ex-Anglo chief led authorities a ‘merry dance’ over years to avoid extradition

A Garda vehicle purporting to carry David Drumm entering the Criminal Courts of Justice and being surrounded by members of the media. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

A Garda vehicle purporting to carry David Drumm entering the Criminal Courts of Justice and being surrounded by members of the media. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

More than six years after he last set foot in Ireland, former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm arrived home on Monday to face the music.

A little before 11am in court number three of the Criminal Courts of Justice building near the Phoenix Park, Drumm was called before Judge Michael Walsh for a hearing on whether or not he should be granted bail pending trial on 33 counts of alleged fraud, false accounting and breaches of common law relating to his time in charge of the now-defunct bank.

Proceedings at Dublin District Court were interrupted by a man in a wheelchair who was due to have a case heard but was told to wait outside by a garda.

In a voice loud enough to grab the attention of the entire courtroom, this person told the garda he was a busy man who did not have time to be hanging around waiting for the court to hear his case.

He threatened to get a shotgun and blow the garda’s head off. The garda remained calm throughout this tirade of abuse and the man was removed from the courtroom.

The former Anglo boss displayed no signs of jet lag, having only arrived at Dublin Airport on a flight from the United States at about 5.30am.

He was smartly dressed in a navy suit and light blue shirt and sat with a black overcoat folded on the bench beside him. For the most part, Drumm fixed his stare on the counsel arguing his case.

The case was heard over the course of a little more than four hours, with three adjournments to consider matters. The court was reminded that Drumm had a constitutional right to the presumption of innocence and a right to bail unless the prosecution could show otherwise.

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions made the case for Drumm to be denied bail, with two garda detectives detailing some of the charges against him and half a dozen reasons as to why he should be denied bail.

‘Merry dance’

The court heard that Drumm had led the authorities a “merry dance” from the early part of 2010 and had made no secret of the fact that he would fight “tooth and claw” over a number of years to avoid his extradition.

Counsel for the DPP argued that his attitude only changed when he lost two appeal hearings in US courts to his extradition case.

The court was told that there was a “serious risk of flight” if Drumm were granted bail.

His solicitor, Michael Staines, suggested that if his client was ever going to go on the run it would have been in August 2014 when he learned from the Irish media that the authorities here were going to seek his extradition from the US.

Staines said his client could “have fled to Canada”, a country with no extradition treaty with Ireland that was “just two hours up the road”. Instead, he remained in Boston with his family.

Drumm’s counsel noted that he had agreed to sign on daily at Balbriggan Garda station, would hand over a large cash amount as surety, and that four people were “prepared to put their houses on the line” as security while he was on bail.

The court also heard that Drumm’s passport was already held by gardaí and that the former banker was prepared to be tagged while on bail, even though no provision in law exists for this to happen.

The scale of the case involving Drumm was laid out. Two books of evidence, millions of documents, 400 hours of phone conversations and the likelihood that this might be broken up into two or more trials due to the scale and complexity of the charges involved.

Staines told the court that it could be mid-2017 before Drumm’s case goes to trial, due in large part to other criminal proceedings involving Anglo Irish Bank being heard first.

Judge Walsh granted bail to Drumm subject to certain conditions. He said the threat of him being a flight risk “simply doesn’t hold up”.

In the end, Drumm was taken away to Cloverhill Prison in Clondalkin for an overnight stay while some issues around his bail conditions are sorted out.

He is expected to be released on bail today and will take up residence in Skerries. Drumm expects to be in employment while he awaits trial and his wife is planning to sell their house in Boston and to return here permanently by June.

Having deliberately spent so long outside Ireland, Drumm now faces the prospect of not being able to leave the jurisdiction for some time to come.

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