Lawyers for Áras Attracta staff seek to exclude video
DPP received ‘incomplete evidence’ due to deletions from RTÉ tape, trial hears
A judge in the trial of five staff accused of assaulting patients at the Áras Attracta care facility is to give her verdict on whether the DPP received ‘incomplete evidence’ before deciding to prosecute in the cases. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
A judge in the trial of five staff accused of assaulting patients at the Áras Attracta care facility in Co Mayo is to give her verdict on Thursday on whether the DPP received “incomplete evidence” before deciding to prosecute in the cases.
Judge Mary Devins will also decide on applications by lawyers for the five accused for video footage to be excluded from the trial.
Some 190 hours of video footage was filmed covertly by RTÉ in the common area of the Health Service Executive (HSE)-run facility between November 3rd and November 19th, 2014
On the second day of the trial at Castlebar District Court, counsels for the accused called for the video evidence to be excluded because of “discrepancies” between the master tape held by RTÉ’s Investigations Unit and the copy of the tape furnished to the State.
Eoin Garavan, counsel for one of the defendants, told the court that the master tape had been examined by a member of his legal team on Tuesday.
“Until yesterday we understood there were no deletions [from the tape]. Then there were five, then there were six. [On Tuesday] the number of deletions has doubled,” Mr Garavan said.
“The whole integrity [of the case] is falling down. The hard disc is different from what we understood it to be.
“There is a huge question mark over the original footage.”
The judge said that when the complaints about the abuse of patients were made to gardaí, the matter was referred to the DPP, who elected to prosecute.
She said that it had now been shown that the DPP did not have sight of all of the RTÉ material, including six files which had been deleted.
The judge asked Patrick Reynolds, counsel for the State, if he needed time to consider the situation, given that it appeared that “incomplete evidence” was held by the DPP when a decision to prosecute was made.
Mr Reynolds said he wanted to make an application that the master tape and the copy from which the State had been working be given to gardaí overnight, so that they could be forensically examined by Garda IT experts.
Mr Reynolds asked that the cases be adjourned to Thursday.
The judge is to give her decision on the issues raised, including the application for expert examination of the tapes, at 10.30am on Thursday.
The five accused each face a single charge of assault at Bungalow 3 of Áras Attracta on dates in November 2014.
They are Pat McLoughlin, of Mayfield, Claremorris, Co Mayo; Christina Delaney, Seefin, Lissatava, Hollymount, Co Mayo; Anna Ywunong Botsimbo. Low Park Avenue, Charlestown, Co Mayo; Joan Walsh, Carrowilkeen, Curry, Co Sligo, and Kathleen King, Knockshanbally, Straide, Foxford, Co Mayo.