Application by murder victim’s family to stop inquest refused by High Court
Family of Liam Murray, shot dead at his Dublin home, unhappy with coroner’s decision not to give them copy of garda file
Some 1,900 lines of inquiry were followed up by gardaí and almost 700 statements taken. Two people were arrested and the DPP later directed no criminal prosecutions be brought against them.
The High Court has refused to grant an application by the family of a murder victim for orders halting an inquest into his death until they receive certain information.
A garda file was sent to the DPP, who decided there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone with the killing.
An inquest into his death was due to resume in September 2015 but his sisters Fiona, Mairead, Siobhan and Patricia Murray, took proceedings that month in the High Court to stop it because they were unhappy with the coroner’s decision not to give them a copy of the garda investigation file.
In her judgment published this week, Ms Justice Mary Faherty refused their application saying she had not found any basis for doing so.
She said the garda investigation established that Mr Murray left a pub on the evening of March 17th 2009 and his last known contact was with a friend about an hour and a half later.
Some people living near Mr Murray’s home heard possible gunshots that night and he was found dead there three days later.
Some 1,900 lines of inquiry were followed up by gardaí and almost 700 statements taken. Two people were arrested and the DPP later directed no criminal prosecutions be brought against them. Gardaí say the investigation is still open.
Gardaí provided a file to the coroner who prepared draft depositions for the conduct of the inquest. The family’s solicitor requested a copy of the garda file.
Innuendo and rumour
The coroner furnished the depositions and post-mortem report and promised additional draft depositions from the gardaí would be provided in due course.
The family complained they had not been furnished with a number of garda depositions including one relating to a statement made by someone who was understood to be a suspect and who had allegedly made a threat against Mr Murray.
They were unhappy with the amount of material furnished and believed it was insufficient to proceed with the inquest when it was scheduled for January 2014.
Following adjournments, the coroner declined to release the papers the family sought.
The family got leave from the High Court in September 2015 to challenge the coroner’s decision. The Garda Commissioner was also a defendant.
It was argued on behalf of the family that, among other things, the narrative account of the circumstances leading to the death were seriously misleading and they feared such a narrative would be produced at the inquest.
They said there exists within the community innuendo and rumour about the death and the purpose of an inquest was to allay such rumours.
The information they sought was crucial to the integrity of the inquest and they were not seeking privileged information, it was argued.
The coroner and the garda commissioner opposed the application.
Ms Justice Faherty found what the family sought in its proceedings lay outside the provisions of the 1962 Coroners Act.