Jurors told to ‘trust own judgment’ as David Drumm’s trial nears end

Judge says 2008 crash ‘unprecedented’ but not an excuse for charges ex-Anglo chief faces

Former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm arriving  at  Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Monday. Photograph:  Gareth Chaney/Collins.

Former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm arriving at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Monday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

 

Members of the jury in ex- Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm’s trial on charges of false accounting and conspiracy to defraud have been told to trust their judgment and apply common sense in reaching a verdict.

Judge Karen O’Connor said much had been said during the trial about the Financial Regulator and Central Bank “but what they knew is irrelevant to the issues” they will deliberate on .

Judge O’Connor on Monday began her charge to the jury and outlined the legal rules that apply to the case, one of the longest-running trials in Irish legal history.

Mr Drumm (51) of Skerries, Co Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to conspiring with Irish Life & Permanent’s (ILP) former chief executive Denis Casey, Anglo’s former financial director Willie McAteer, the bank’s former head of treasury John Bowe and others others to defraud depositors and investors at Anglo by “dishonestly” creating the impression that deposits in 2008 were €7.2 billion larger than they were.

He has also pleaded not guilty to false accounting on December 3rd, 2008, by furnishing information to the market that Anglo’s 2008 deposits were €7.2 billion larger than they were.

On the opening day of his trial, Mr Drumm’s lawyers told the jury that he accepts that the multi-million euro transactions took place between Anglo and ILP in 2008 but disputes that they were fraudulent or dishonest.

Frantic

The judge described 2008 as a time of unprecedented financial crisis. She said that although bankers may have frantically been trying to keep their doors open, necessity is not a defence to the charges made against Mr Drumm.

She explained that if a parent steals food from a shop to feed their hungry children it is still theft, even if the person had told a garda what they planned to do.

Judge O’Connor reminded the 10 men and four women of the jury that when they were sworn in, they were asked not participate in the case if they had strong views.

“You and you alone decide the facts. Trust your own judgement. Apply your common sense,” she said.

The judge urged them to put aside any sympathies, and ask themselves if the evidence withstood scrutiny during the trial.

“The presumption of innocence is the cornerstone of the criminal justice system,” she said.

Mr Drumm pleaded not guilty and is presumed innocent and it is only for the jury to find otherwise, she said.

The judge told jurors that they were dealing with two separate trials within a trial, and asked them to consider each of the charges against the defendant separately.

Dishonesty

On the conspiracy charge, she said dishonesty is an essential ingredient of this offence.

She said jurors should concentrate on whether there was a conspiracy to dishonestly engage in transactions to create a false and misleading impression with the intention of causing loss or the risk of loss to depositors or investors.

The judge stressed Mr Drumm did not have to prove anything, and that no adverse inferences should be drawn from the fact that he did not give evidence during his trial.

“It is up to you ladies and gentlemen to decide whether or not the transactions at the centre of this case were real or not, and whether or not they were entered into dishonestly,” she said.

Regarding the false accounting charge, the judge said it was up to jurors to decide if Mr Drumm knew the account was false, misleading or deceptive.

“If you have any reasonable doubt about either charge, you must acquit,” she said.

Judge O’Connor told jurors that it was unfortunate that only 12 of them would eventually be allowed to deliberate, considering the time and effort they have given the case.

The judge sent the jury home for the afternoon and will continue with her charge on Tuesday morning.