Barrister accused of murder of man in shooting on farm sent forward for trial

Judge refuses application to allow Diarmuid Rossa Phelan return to his farms to carry out work

A barrister has been sent forward for trial to the Central Criminal Court accused of murdering a man in a shooting on his farm.

Law professor Diarmuid Rossa Phelan (53), is charged with the murder of Keith Conlon, a father of four who died in hospital two days after he was shot at Hazelgrove Farm, Kiltalown Lane, Tallaght, on February 22nd last.

Mr Phelan appeared at Dublin District Court on Monday when Garda Sgt Michael McGrath served him with a book of evidence.

Judge Bryan Smyth told Mr Phelan he was being returned to the Central Criminal Court for trial, but a date has yet to be set for his appearance there.


Mr Phelan said “yes” when asked if he understood that he must notify the prosecution within 14 days if he intended to use an alibi in his defence. Judge Smyth also ordered gardaí to provide the defence with copies of interview videos.

The High Court refused bail in March, but the Court of Appeal overturned that decision the following month and released Mr Phelan on a €100,000 bond with a range of conditions, including a 10pm-8am curfew and an order to stay out of Tallaght in Dublin and his tillage farm in Wexford.

On Monday, Mr Phelan asked the District Court to change the curfew time to end at 7am and to allow him back on his farms. He told the court that as a farmer and herd owner, he had obligations and needed to be at his land to carry out fencing work. The defence said he needed to comply with the Department of Agriculture, environmental schemes and subsidies.

Counsel for the State Jane McGowan said there were objections to the request.

Mr Phelan told the court he had been farming since the late 1990s and had his Tallaght farm since 2015.

“This farm is my dream,” he said, adding that he had been “desperate” to get back there for months. Fencing needed to be repaired, and he had to oversee herding and animal husbandry issues. He agreed that during the earlier bail proceedings, the Court of Appeal had been told that his sheep were sold, but he explained the sale did not go through.

The defence proposed that he be allowed to go there three days a week.

Sgt McGrath told the court he learned there was an arrangement with another farmer to look after Mr Phelan’s animals. He contended the accused did not need to be on the farm.

Judge Smyth agreed to change the curfew hours but refused to change the other conditions. The other bail terms stated he must reside at a Garda-approved address, sign on daily at a Garda station, and be contactable by mobile phone. He had to give gardaí access to all his Irish and foreign bank accounts.

The lawyer had to surrender his passport, and must not leave the State, join a gun club or purchase any firearms.