Woman guilty of killing mother by neglect claims judge is biased

Eleanor Joel appeals conviction over death of 59-year-old MS sufferer Evelyn Joel

Lawyers for a woman found guilty of unlawfully killing her mother by neglect have claimed that one of three judges assigned to hear her appeal may be biased against her.

As a result, Eleanor Joel's appeal against conviction for unlawfully killing 59-year-old MS sufferer Evelyn Joel by neglect will not proceed until October.

Eleanor Joel (41), and her partner Jonathan Costen (42), with last addresses at Cluain Dara, Enniscorthy, had pleaded not guilty to unlawfully killing Ms Joel in Co Wexford in January 2006.

They were found guilty by a jury at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court in March 2013. Judge Seán O'Donnabháin gave them both a two year suspended sentence on condition they carry out 230 hours of community service.


Both Ms Joel and Mr Costen appealed their convictions and hearings were due to take place in the Court of Appeal on Wednesday.

An application by the Director of Public Prosecutions for a review of the couple's sentences on grounds that they were unduly lenient was also due to be heard on Thurday.

However, before proceedings commenced, Mr Justice George Birmingham, presiding, said the court had received a letter from the solicitor for Ms Joel.

On foot of the letter, Mr Justice Birmingham said he was not going to “force the case on” before a court was constituted and due to the unavailability of a two-day slot, the case would “unfortunately” have to go back to a date in October.

Mr Justice Birmingham said that when Mr Justice John Edwards was assigned to sit on the court at the end of last week he immediately spoke to his colleagues and to President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan.

“All of us” were of the view that there would be absolutely no problem whatsoever, the judge said, with Mr Justice Edwards’ previous involvement in a judicial review matter.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who was sitting with Mr Justice Edwards and Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, said he wasn't going to make any criticisms.

He added that having read the papers, “even if it was possible to signal these concerns before the weekend,” it would have saved the court and counsel aswell “a significant amount of reading over the weekend”.

The case was put back to May 15th with a view to fixing a date for hearing.

Ms Joel and Mr Costen were present in court for the application.