Murder accused appoints new legal team and declines to attend trial

Stephen Penrose on trial over death of Philip Finnegan, who was found dead in a Kildare wood

Stephen Penrose, who is accused of murder, has declined to continue attending his trial at the Central Criminal Court and the case will proceed in his absence. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Stephen Penrose, who is accused of murder, has declined to continue attending his trial at the Central Criminal Court and the case will proceed in his absence. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

 

Stephen Penrose, who is accused of murdering a man whose decapitated body was found in a wood in Kildare, has declined to continue attending his trial and the case will proceed in his absence, the jury has been told.

The Central Criminal Court jury also heard that Mr Penrose (38), who was representing himself in his murder trial having dismissed his legal team, has hired new lawyers.

Mr Penrose, of Newtown Court, Malahide Road, Coolock, Dublin 17, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Philip Finnegan (24) at Rahin Woods on August 10th, 2016.

On the opening day of the trial on October 13th, Mr Justice Alexander Owens told the jury of eight men and four women that the accused was entitled to dispense with the services of his legal team and that they should not draw any inference from that.

However, Mr Justice Owens on Wednesday informed the jury that Mr Penrose was now represented by new lawyers - solicitor Michael French, Anthony Sammon SC and Eoghan Weldon BL.

Declined to attend

The judge told the jurors that Mr Penrose had declined to attend his trial “in person” and proceedings would continue without him.

Mr Justice Owens last Friday warned Mr Penrose that he would be taken to the cells and banned from participating in his own trial if he continued to “abuse” and “ballyrag” witnesses while representing himself.

The judge said he would not allow his courtroom to become “a circus” after Mr Penrose accused a garda inspector, who he was cross-examining, of lying under oath.

“He is telling bulls**t about me,” Mr Penrose said, before demanding that the witness be “dismissed” from his trial as his “word” could not be accepted.

Prosecution counsel Brendan Grehan SC on Wednesday told the court that Insp Aidan Hannon was in the witness box when the “matter broke” last Friday. The barrister said he would call the garda again at a later stage in the trial and asked him to step down for the moment.

The jury spent the day watching CCTV footage from the afternoon of August 10th, 2016, which included clips from Liffey Valley Shopping Centre and various locations in Kilcock, Leixlip and Edenderry. The trial continues.