Court clears way for trial of solicitor on forgery charges


THE SUPREME Court has cleared the way for the trial of a solicitor on forgery charges that date back 18 years.

Patrick Enright, Glenlarehan, Castleisland, Co Kerry, is facing trial on 10 charges of forging documents purporting to be New York Life Insurance Company claim forms totalling more than $38,000 (€29,000) between January and August 1994.

Mr Enright brought two legal challenges to his prosecution, arguing, among other reasons, he would not get a fair trial due to delay.

In the first challenge, heard in 2008, the High Court dismissed his case and the Supreme Court upheld that dismissal. Mr Enright brought his second challenge in early 2011, alleging further inexcusable delay in bringing him to trial. In July 2011 the High Court again refused to prohibit his trial. He appealed and the Supreme Court upheld that decision in a ruling earlier this month.

After delivering judgment yesterday outlining the reasons for dismissal, the Court – comprising Mr Justice John MacMenamin, Mr Justice John Murray and Mr Justice Frank Clarke – directed the DPP to seek an early trial date for Mr Enright.

Sunniva McDonagh SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the case was in a list next week to fix hearing dates.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice MacMenamin noted Mr Enright had agreed to a €9,500 settlement from the Government following a case taken by him to the European Court of Human Rights over the alleged delay. That settlement did not have a direct bearing on his High Court proceedings aimed at prohibiting his trial, the judge said. The right to compensation for failure to provide an expeditious trial is quite different from seeking to stop the trial, he said.

That had been made clear in a Supreme Court decision earlier this year in a case in which businessman Jim Kennedy unsuccessfully sought to prohibit his trial on corruption charges.

While the delay on behalf of DPP in prosecuting the case was significant and largely unexplained, it is accepted no actual prejudice was caused to Mr Enright by the delay, he said.

The case against Mr Enright was largely based on documents and was therefore not substantially reliant on human factors such as recollection or identification, he added.

The court had to balance Mr Enright’s right to a fair trial against the public interest in the prosecution of crime and, in the circumstances of this case, the balance fell in favour of the public interest. Mr Enright had not discharged the onus which required him to demonstrate as a matter of probability he would not receive a fair trial, the judge concluded.