Meehan bid to quash Guerin conviction can go to full hearing

Court of Criminal Appeal dismisses DPP attempt to have application struck out

The Court of Criminal Appeal has ruled that Brian Meehan's bid to have his conviction for the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin declared a miscarriage of justice can proceed to a full hearing.

The three-judge court today dismissed an application by the Director of Public Prosecutions to have Meehan's application struck out. The DPP's application was "misconceived" or, "at best premature", the court found.

The DPP, in seeking to halt Meehan’s application, had argued there were no new or “newly discovered” facts justifying the application and that it should be struck out as “an abuse of process”.

Meehan’s lawyers rejected those arguments.

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The three-judge court, comprising Mr Justice John Murray, presiding and sitting with Mr Justice Eamon de Valera and Mr Justice Brian McGovern, said the DPP was seeking to have the appeal court depart from normal procedures.

A range of legal issues which the DPP sought to have treated as preliminary issues “encompassed virtually the full ambit of the issues between the parties”, the court said.

These issues “go to the kernel of Meehan’s application, and any hearing to resolve them would be tantamount to a hearing and determination of the case on its merits”, the court said.

The DPP had not established any grounds that would allow the court of criminal appeal to embark on any form of preliminary or separate hearing from the hearing of the application itself, it ruled.

Meehan, aged 48, from Crumlin in Dublin, is serving a life sentence in Portlaoise Prison for the murder of Ms Guerin in June 1996.

He has brought an application under Section 2 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1993 to have his conviction declared a miscarriage of justice. He was not in court for the ruling.

Meehan was sentenced in July 1999, following a 31-day trial before the non-jury Special Criminal Court. It is expected his application to have his case declared a miscarriage of justice may take some time to prepare for hearing.