Priest's barrister asks judge to throw out case

 

THE barrister representing a priest based in Donegal, charged with sexually abusing two young boys, yesterday accused the Derry prosecuting authorities of negligence.

Mr Eugene Grant QC represents Father Edward Kilpatrick (52), who denies 19 counts of sexually abusing the boys in Derry between 1975 and 1981.

The trial was delayed on Tuesday when it was found that key witnesses had shared the same seating area with members of the trial's jury panel. Yesterday Insp Robbie Paul denied defence allegations that he had led a complainant to a seating area already occupied by jurors.

Mr Grant said the fact that both jurors and witnesses had shared the same area was another blow to the integrity of any trial and he applied for a stay in the proceedings.

"It is utterly impossible for Father Kilpatrick to have a fair trial as a result of the events which occurred yesterday," Mr Grant told Judge Tom Burgess. "Given the accumulative effect of yesterday together with the history of events in this case to date, there must be a limit to the blows that can be, dealt to the integrity of this trial."

Later Ms Evelyn Collins, a friend of the defendant, told the court she saw Insp Paul leading a complainant and his family into the area occupied by jurors.

Mr Barra McCrory, defending, said he saw a complainant sitting among members of the jury panel.

Insp Paul however denied the allegation. He admitted he had. not made inquiries about alternative seating arrangements. He was aware that jurors and witnesses were seated in the same room and he had done nothing about it.

Insp Paul said he was approached by junior counsel for the DPP who asked him to leave together with the complainants and their families. The witness said it had not occurred to him to separate them.

Making his application for the case to be thrown out, Mr Grant said there had been a complete failure at the hands of the investigating officer and the DPP or one of the two agencies.

Judge Burgess reserved judgment on the defence application.