State apologises to man jailed in miscarriage of justice
Court told compensation will be paid over wrongful manslaughter conviction
Martin Conmey of Ratoath, Co. Meath pictured leaving the Four Courts with his wife, Anne after the High Court was told that his action for damages was settled. Photograph: Collins Courts
The State has apologised “unreservedly” before the High Court to a Co Meath man whose conviction for the manslaughter of a young female neighbour more than 40 years ago was certified a miscarriage of justice.
The State has also agreed to pay “appropriate compensation” to Martin Conmey, the court was told.
Mr Conmey was acquitted in 2010 of the manslaughter of 19-year-old Una Lynskey, whose body was discovered in the Dublin mountains about two months after she was last seen getting off a bus near her home at Porterstown Lane, Ratoath, Co Meath. The acquittal came 38 years after he was jailed for three years for the offence.
After the Court of Criminal Appeal in 2014 certified the conviction amounted to a miscarriage of justice, Mr Conmey brought proceedings seeking compensation.
When his case came before Mr Justice Noonan on Tuesday, Hugh Hartnett SC, for Mr Conmey, said it had settled and could be struck out on terms including costs to Mr Conmey and an apology read by Mr Murphy.
It said: “The Minister for Justice and Equality, on behalf of the State, wishes to formally acknowledge that Mr Martin Conmey, who was convicted of certain offences in 1973 and served a term of imprisonment in consequence, was a victim of a miscarriage of justice. This has been certified by the Court of Criminal Appeal.
“The State apologises unreservedly to Mr Conmey. The State regrets the pain and loss experienced by Mr Conmey as a result of his imprisonment and has taken steps to pay appropriate compensation to him in accordance with the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act 1993.”
In a statement after the brief court hearing, Mr Conmey said: “I accept and appreciate the State’s apology.”
He thanked his wife Anne and son Ray for standing by him “through all this” and for the great support they, and other family and friends, provided. He also thanked his lawyers, Patrick Tallon Solicitors, especially Sheila Cooney and Deirdre Moran, and barristers Hugh Hartnett, Micheal O’Higgins and Aaron Shearer.
The case arose following the disappearance on October 12th 1971 of Ms Lynskey, a civil servant, after getting off a bus from Dublin, less than half a mile from her home. Her body was discovered two months later near Tibradden in the Dublin mountains in an advanced state of decomposition. The cause of her death has never been determined.
Mr Conmey and his friend Dick Donnelly were convicted of Ms Lynskey’s manslaughter in July 1972.
A third man, Martin Kerrigan, who was also suspected of having been involved in Ms Lynskey’s death, was abducted and killed by her brothers, Seán and James Lynskey, and her cousin John Gaughan, nine days after her body was discovered. Mr Donnelly won his appeal against his conviction in 1973 but Mr Conmey’s conviction was upheld and he served three years in jail.
In November 2010, the Court of Criminal Appeal overturned this conviction after finding early statements taken from witnesses Martin Madden and Seán Reilly – which tended to favour Mr Conmey – were not disclosed to the defence and were “radically inconsistent” with later statements by the same witnesses and evidence given at the trial.
The court heard the statements in evidence at the trial placed Mr Conmey and Mr Donnelly on Porterstown Lane during the crucial 15-minute period in which Ms Lynskey disappeared, having stepped off her bus at 6.55pm and embarked upon the short walk to her home.
Arising out of the 2010 decision, the Court of Criminal Appeal in 2014 certified Mr Conmey’s conviciton as a miscarriage of justice.