Judgments: key cases in brief

Rehabilitation not addressed in sentence

Rehabilitation should have been addressed in a sentence for arson. DPP vs Flynn, IECA 290, (Court of Appeal, Edwards J, December 4th, 2015) The Court of Appeal allows the appeal of a sentence imposed for arson of commercial premises and adjoining buildings and substitutes a sentence of seven years in prison, with the final two years suspended, finding that the failure to sufficiently address the issue of rehabilitation represented an error of principle by the sentencing judge.

– Ciarán Joyce BL

A husband's bankruptcy precluded him from continuing with a family law application. AA vs BA, IESC 102, (Supreme Court, Charleton J, Laffoy J, November 9th, 2015) The Supreme Court dismisses an application by husband for an order setting aside earlier decisions of the Supreme Court and High Court alleging bias in family law proceedings, on the grounds that the husband had been declared bankrupt (in both Ireland and the US) and that, as he had no personal as distinct from property interest in maintaining the proceedings, he had no standing before the court.

– Mark Tottenham BL


Conditions in Polish prison did not amount to inhuman and degrading treatment Minister for Justice vs Wlodarczyk, IEHC 804, (High Court, Donnelly J, December 16th, 2015) The High Court, on foot of a European arrest warrant, orders the surrender of a convicted murderer to Poland to serve the remainder of his 12-year sentence, saying there were no substantial grounds for believing that there was a real risk that he would be subjected on return to a form of detention amounting to inhuman and degrading treatment.

– James Cross BL

The DPP could not be compelled to prosecute for child pornography in Ireland in lieu of extradition to US. Attorney General vs Marques, IEHC 798, (High Court, Donnelly J, December 16th, 2015) The High Court, in two related cases, a), grants an order extraditing the respondent to the US on charges of child pornography, on the grounds that the extradition would not violate his constitutional right to family or personal life, and b), refuses a judicial review of the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions not to prosecute him for related offences in Ireland, on the grounds that there were no exceptional circumstances that would require the DPP to give reasons for refusing to prosecute.

– Ian Fitzharris BL

Evidence was admissible of "test purchasing" of drugs by undercover gardaí. DPP vs Mills, IECA 305, (Court of Appeal, Mahon J, December 21st, 2015) The Court of Appeal dismisses the appeal of a drug-trafficking conviction where the offender entered a guilty plea following a ruling to admit evidence of "test purchasing" of drugs by undercover gardaí following two days of legal argument, on the grounds that that the trial judge was correct in her decision to admit the evidence, despite there being no identifiable code of practice regulating the authorisation and conduct of such an operation.

– Ciarán Joyce

A UK offence of failing to attend court while on bail corresponded with criminal contempt in Ireland. Minister for Justice vs Prieto, IEHC 807, (High Court, Donnelly J, November 16th, 2015) The High Court, pursuant to a European arrest warrant, a), orders the surrender to the United Kingdom of a person on charges of assault and failure to attend court, and determines that the offence in the UK of failing to attend court while on bail corresponded to criminal contempt of court in Ireland, but b), refuses to order surrender on 12 further charges relating to breaches of bail conditions, on the grounds that they did not correspond to offences in Ireland.

– James Cross

There was no good reason to extend the time to appeal a decision of Private Residential Tenancies Board Keon vs Gibbs, IEHC 812, (High Court, Baker J, December 21st, 2015) The High Court refuses to grant a tenant an extension of time to appeal a decision of the Private Residential Tenancies Board ordering him to deliver up vacant possession and pay €9,992 arrears of rent and €1,000 in damages, on the grounds that a), he had not shown any "good and sufficient reason" why time should be extended, (b), there were no arguable ground of appeal and; (c) prejudice would be caused to other parties were the application allowed.

– Conor O’Higgins BL

The referee's report of an assault during a GAA match should have been considered in sentencing. DPP vs Prendergast, IECA 318, (Court of Appeal, Sheehan J, December 8th, 2015) The Court of Appeal allows an appeal of a sentence imposed for assault causing harm during a Gaelic football match and substitutes a sentence of 12 months' imprisonment with the balance suspended, finding that the sentencing judge had sentenced the appellant based on the account of the victim and not the referee's report, which provided the proper context of the assault.

– Ciarán Joyce

These reports were written and compiled by Stare Decisis Hibernia, an online legal research service (StareDecisisHibernia.com). The full text of each judgment can be found on courts.ie.