The trial of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Seán FitzPatrick is to proceed in October after an application for adjournment by his defence was denied.
Lawyers for Mr FitzPatrick (66) – who has pleaded not guilty to 27 charges under the 1990 Companies Act – made the application due to concerns over the publicity surrounding a recent, separate trial of three Anglo officials.
Bernard Condon SC, defending, had told the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court "a cascade of sludge" was visited on the head of his client during those proceedings.
However, in his ruling on Thursday, Judge Martin Nolan declined the application pointing out that the defendant had been the subject of attention for years.
“Anybody living in this country has to be aware of the huge amount of adverse publicity that has been directed toward Sean FitzPatrick since 2008,” he said.
He believes a jury can deal with the case impartially, he said, and that Mr Fitzpatrick’s acquittal at a separate recent criminal trial underscored his confidence in this regard, in that the jury arrived at a verdict based on the facts of the case.
“Mr Fitzpatrick’s reputation is negative at this stage,” he said. “It seems to me the trial should go on.”
In a brief outline of his decision, Judge Nolan said it was his job to ensure the defendant had a fair trial and an impartial jury.
He said his decision must also take into account whether an adjournment would allow the “odium and ridicule” heaped upon Mr Fitzpatrick to fade over a period of time from the public memory.
Prosecuting counsel Paul O’Higgins, he said, had previously argued that two months would suffice in this regard.
In the meantime, "villains and heroes" will be produced in the media alongside other distractions like the forthcoming Rugby World Cup, All-Irelands and the pending general election.
The recently-concluded case regarding former Anglo officials, which formed the basis of the defence’s application, had taken its own course and heard comments from counsel, witnesses and the judge.
“I have no doubt these comments were proper,” in relation to the case being tried, Judge Nolan said.
Mr FitzPatrick’s charges include 21 of making a misleading, false or deceptive statement to auditors and six of furnishing false information from 2002 to 2007. The trial will begin on October 5th.