Court dismisses murderer's appeal


The Court of Criminal Appeal has dismissed a convicted murderer’s appeal against his subsequent conviction and his 10-year prison sentence for the possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Eugene Kelly (45) was jailed for 10 years by the Special Criminal Court in July 2009 after he was found guilty of the possession of a 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol and 50 rounds of ammunition at Castletown Road, Dundalk, Co Louth on July 19th, 2008.

Kelly, of Ashling Park, Cox’s Demesne, Dundalk, Co Louth, was previously convicted at the Central Criminal Court in April 1992 of the murder of publican Cecil Black who was tied up during a robbery and died from his injuries. He served 15 years of the life sentence but was released on licence in March 2007.

At his trial before the three judge Special Criminal Court, gardaí testified that they placed Kelly under surveillance and intercepted him as he took possession of a mobile phone box containing an automatic pistol and a box of ammunition in a pub car-park.

Kelly appealed against both his conviction and the 10 year sentence for the possession of the pistol and ammunition.

In its judgment this morning, the three judge court of Mr Justice Nial Fennelly, presiding sitting with Mr Justice Michael Moriarty and Mr Justice Michael Hanna, dismissed Kelly’s appeals against his conviction and severity of sentence.

The court said it was satisfied to dismiss all grounds raised by Kelly in his appeal against his conviction, stating it was not convinced by arguments made on his behalf. The court further held there was no error in the 10 year sentence imposed on Kelly, who was not present in court when the verdict was delivered.

In his appeal, Diarmaid McGuinness SC, for Kelly, argued the Special Criminal Court (SCC) had erred by admitting evidence relating to Kelly’s mobile phone when there was no lawful authority or power invoked prior to the search of Kelly and the subsequent seizure of his phone.

Counsel also submitted the SCC erred in holding that the prosecutions evidence against his client established beyond a reasonable doubt that Kelly knew the mobile phone box contained a firearm and ammunition.

It was also submitted that during the hearing the SCC had failed to to accede to a direction by Kelly’s legal team that the prosecution had failed to establish their client was guilty of the offences charged, and had failed to give their reasons for their refusal of the direction.

Counsel added the conviction was unsafe on grounds that the SCC erred by drawing inferences that Kelly had lied to conceal his guilt, and that the SCC failed to properly consider that Kelly might have made false statements for reasons other than guilt such as fear for his life.

The State had opposed the appeal, and argued that Kelly’s conviction was safe. The state further argued the SCC was entitled to impose the 10 year sentence on Kelly, and that the term was not excessive.