THE retrial of a Carlow man who was charged with 63 sexual offences has collapsed at the Central Criminal Court (CCJ) following his sudden death.
The 52-year-old man had pleaded not guilty to 62 counts of indecent assault of three young girls and one count of attempted rape of one of the girls between February 1978 and December 1986 in Carlow. A jury had been selected and evidence had been heard since last Monday. When proceedings ended on Wednesday evening, all three alleged victims had given evidence and had also been cross-examined. Evidence was due to be heard from gardaí and other witnesses on Thursday.
However, the case came to an end when the defendant, a married man with children, died in tragic circumstances overnight.
On Thursday morning in Court 10 at the CCJ, prosecutor Caroline Biggs SC told Judge Patrick McCarthy that the defendant had “passed away”. Ms Biggs called upon Inspector Ger Egan to give evidence.
Inspector Egan told the court he had been notified that morning of a “sudden death”, which had occurred in Tullow. “I spoke to the local superintendent, Gerry Redmond, who has confirmed to me in the last half-hour that the deceased is the defendant, who is on trial before this court.”
There was no reaction to the news from the alleged victims and their families, who were gathered in the courtroom. It is understood that the alleged victims found out about the defendant’s death on their way to the court.
The jury of seven men and five women were called into the courtroom at this point and Judge McCarthy informed them of what had occurred. Members of the jury were visibly stunned at the news. Discharging the jury, Judge McCarthy said: “I can entirely say this brings the matter to a conclusion.”
Judge McCarthy thanked the jury and exempted them from jury service for ten years.
The defendant had been represented by Paddy McLoughlin SC, who was assisted by former Olympian Michelle de Bruin BL. Ms Biggs was assisted by Conor O’Doherty BL.
This retrial had followed a 2013 case in the Central Criminal Court. On that occasion, a jury had failed to reach a majority decision on the 63 charges, while it acquitted the man on 27 counts of rape.
The deceased was also due to face a separate prosecution in Carlow Circuit Court shortly for a number of alleged sexual offences.