Belfast Telegraph

Convictions quashed over warrant

Three more prisoners have had their convictions quashed over a controversial search warrant.

Dublin's Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) ordered a retrial for Jason Kavanagh, Mark Farrelly and Christopher Corcoran, who were convicted of tiger kidnapping the family of a cash-in-transit driver in March 2005 and stealing 2.28 million euro from him and his employer, Securicor.

A number of trials have collapsed and several convictions overturned since the Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that a certain warrant previously used by gardai during investigations was unconstitutional.

The section 29 warrant was introduced in 1976 to allow senior gardai, not below the rank of superintendent, to authorise an emergency search without recourse to an independent judge.

But it was legally challenged on grounds it should not have been issued by a Garda superintendent involved in the case but by an independent authority, such as a judge or a peace commissioner.

The CCA found the convictions against Kavanagh, Farrelly and Corcoran cannot stand as there were no essential safeguards in the section 29 warrant.

After a landmark 66-day trial in 2009, the three Dubliners were found guilty of falsely imprisoning Paul Richardson and his family on March 13 and 14 in 2005 and stealing 2.28m euro.

Farrelly, 39 of Moatview Court, Priorswood, Coolock, and Kavanagh, 35, of Parslickstown Court, Ladyswell, Mulhuddart, were jailed for 25 years each. Corcoran, 63, of Bayside Boulevard North, was jailed for 12 years.

No cash was recovered. But the three-judge CCA overturned the jury's verdict as their homes were searched under Section 29 of the Offences Against the State Act and was therefore not valid.

The Chief Justice, Ms Susan Denham, sitting with Mr Justice Michael Moriarty and Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said that as with previous cases, there were no essential safeguards present for the co-accused in the section 29 warrants. "It follows, therefore, that the convictions cannot stand," they ruled.

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