Collapse of murder trial devastates victim's family


THE collapse of the Flannery murder trial at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin on Thursday has left the family of Mr Patrick O'Driscoll "devastated", his sister, Ms Jean Bailey, said in Cork yesterday.

Mr O'Driscoll is one of three men who vanished without trace in Cork between April and December 1994. Mr Fred Flannery (35) was charged with Mr O'Driscoll's murder, but the trial collapsed when Mr Justice Barr ruled that gardai had withheld vital case documents.

Mr Justice Barr said Supt Patrick J. Brennan, of Mayfield Garda Station, Cork, and his investigating team "consistently and deliberately resorted to a policy, the objective of which was to deprive the accused of his constitutional right to a fair trial in accordance with the law".

Yesterday Ms Bailey said her family could not believe what had happened. They would be seeking legal advice, "although I don't think it will do much good".

"Nobody came to my door to tell me. I heard it on the news at 4.30 p.m. and then I saw it on the television news. We are going to take legal advice because this has got to be looked into. I telephoned other members of the family in the UK and they were devastated as well. What's wrong with the system of justice?

"I think it's down to the gardai. Nobody came to my door to apologise. I can't believe this has happened. We haven't got Patrick's body and I suppose now we'll never find it. I haven't talked to my parents yet but I know that they are devastated, too. I'm so angry - I'm too angry to cry.

"Somebody has to answer for this because the gardai had 12 months to do the case. I don't know what they were at. They told us that every little detail was being looked into. What a load of lies."

On February 13th last year, a Garda press release appealed for information on the three missing men, causing speculation in Cork that a serial killer was at large.

The Garda statement said Mr O'Driscoll was last seen alive between December 15th and December 16th, 1994, adding that he had kept regular contact with his family.

"He left personal belongings in his flat, along with medications which he required to take on continuing basis for a condition" the statement added.

The other missing men are Mr Cathal O'Brien, a native of Co Wexford and a graduate of Waterford RTC, and Mr Kevin Ball, a Briton. The men knew each other well and had lived at various times at a flat in Wellington Terrace, in the Grattan Hill area of Cork.

Of particular concern to the Garda is the fact that the three men, who were on social welfare, had failed to claim their entitlements just before their disappearance.

Mr O'Driscoll (32) is described as single, 5ft 8in, 10 st, with a dark complexion and long dark hair. He wore a patch over his left eye. Mr O'Brien (23) is single, 5ft 11 in, 11 st and of slim build. His light brown hair was in a ponytail. Mr Ball (42) is married. He is 5ft 10in and had brown hair and a beard. He usually wore a black knitted cap.