Man who killed Shane Geoghegan fails appeal against sentence

European human rights court uphelds Supreme Court finding against Barry Doyle

The killer of rugby player Shane Geoghegan in a notorious 2008 Limerick mistaken identity case has failed in an appeal of his sentence to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The court this morning upheld, by a majority, one dissenting, in Doyle v Ireland the Supreme Court finding against Barry Doyle's claim that he was deprived of access to legal representation during crucial interviews by gardaí.

Doyle may appeal the finding to the ECHR’s Grand Chamber. Doyle (34) is currently serving a life sentence in Mountjoy Prison.

The European Court of Human Rights is the Strasbourg-based court of the Council of Europe. Although Doyle had been given unrestricted access to his lawyer before and between police interviews, a solicitor's presence during the interviews was denied in line with the then practice by the police.


Case law

That practice has since been changed. The court held that the European Convention on Human Rights’ case law did uphold the right to have a lawyer present throughout, and very strict scrutiny had to be applied in cases where, as here, there had been no compelling reasons to justify restricting the right of access to a lawyer.

But it found that such restrictions did not in this case irretrievably prejudice the trial and so upheld the Irish Supreme Court.

Doyle had been arrested in February 2009 and was taken to a police station, where he was given immediate access to a solicitor, with whom he consulted prior to the first police interview.

He was subsequently interviewed many times and had access to a solicitor, both in person and by telephone, between interviews and for as long as he or the solicitor requested.

He admitted killing Geoghegan in the 15th interview and gave a number of details about the crime. After his conviction in February 2012 he sought in appeals to have his admissions excluded, arguing that he had been induced, threatened, and denied access to legal advice. His application was lodged with the ECHR on July 12th, 2017. Judgment was given by a chamber of seven judges including Síofra O’Leary (Ireland).

Patrick Smyth

Patrick Smyth

Patrick Smyth is former Europe editor of The Irish Times