Water protest charges against Balbriggan woman dismissed

Court rules defence not given all video evidence in assault and obstruction case

Former minister James Reilly. Photograph:  Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Former minister James Reilly. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

 

Another case linked to water protesting has failed in court.

Charges against Regina Ward (49) from Balbriggan, Co Dublin, who had been charged with assault and obstruction, were dismissed after legal arguments on Tuesday at the Dublin District Court.

The court heard that Ms Ward pleaded not guilty to three charges – breach of the peace, assaulting Garda Insp Neil Curran and obstructing the free passage of a vehicle and a person – at Mill Street, Balbriggan on January 6th, 2016.

The then minister for children and youth affairs, James Reilly, along with former tanaiste Joan Burton, were brought in separate cars to the opening of a social welfare office in the town. A water protest was taking place at the time in Balbriggan.

The court heard that Ms Ward ended up on the bonnet of Mr Reilly’s car. His driver filmed the protesters with his phone and the State intended to use his 95-second video in evidence and to call up to 12 witnesses.

The court heard that during the alleged assault on Garda Insp Curran, his hat was knocked off but he suffered no injuries.

Defence barrister Brian Storan described the prosecution as “heavy-handed” and “political policing”.

The court heard that in addition to the video taken by Mr Reilly’s driver, gardaí carried out a search and seized video footage from a laptop belonging to a person who had filmed the protest in its entirety.

Mr Storan argued that the prosecution had selected nine pieces of video footage which were not a continuous recording. The clip filmed by Mr Reilly’s driver should have been longer and that a sample of it played in court was “shambolic”.

Prosecuting, State solicitor Michael Durkan said all the video evidence obtained in the investigation had been handed over to the defence.

The garda who downloaded the material was available to give evidence in relation to the videos, however the judge did not call the officer to give evidence.

Judge Kathryn Hutton ruled that on the basis the defence had not been provided with full and timely disclosure she was dismissing the case.

The State has not yet indicated if it will appeal the decision.