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Tributes to ex-judge Paul Carney who has died aged 72

Published 24/09/2015

Paul Carney presided over many high profile trials
Paul Carney presided over many high profile trials

Former judge Paul Carney, who ruled over many of Ireland's most high-profile criminal cases in recent memory, has died at the age of 72.

The country's most senior criminal judge retired in April after a lengthy, outspoken and sometimes controversial career dealing with often extraordinary trials that gripped the nation.

Justice Nicholas Kearns, President of the High Court, said Mr Carney's death is a sad loss for his family and for the judiciary "which he served with such distinction for so many years".

"He was the pre-eminent criminal law judge in the Central Criminal Court in our time, presiding in a long career over well more than a hundred murder and rape trials," said Justice Kearns.

"He did so with exemplary fairness throughout, a fact acknowledged by not only by practitioners but in many instances also by those standing trial before him.

"He will be greatly missed, particularly by his colleagues in the High Court, who held him in such high esteem."

The married father of four became a barrister in 1966, taking on civil and criminal cases for both prosecution and defence teams.

He was appointed a High Court judge in 1991.

Since then he went on to preside over many of the country's most-publicised trials under the full glare of the public spotlight.

They included the case of double sex killer Michael Bambrick, the so-called "Scissor Sisters" Linda and Charlotte Mulhall, as well as the case of Wayne O'Donoghue, convicted of killing 11-year-old schoolboy Robert Holohan.

He was also one of three judges who ruled on the case of "right-to-die" campaigner Marie Fleming, who while terminally ill mounted a landmark challenge against the law on assisted suicide.

No stranger to controversy, his pronouncements from the bench or lectern during public talks often sparked debate about the Irish justice system.

On the day of his retirement earlier this year, Mr Carney said it was a "very black day" as he had worked for more than half a century - a quarter of a century as a judge.

He was one of longest serving judges in country.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald offered her condolences to the Carney family and said he would be greatly missed.

"I wish to express my deepest sympathy to Mr Justice Paul Carney's wife and family on their very sad loss," she said.

"Mr Justice Carney was a judge of exceptional ability who made a huge contribution to the High Court bench, in particular in presiding over many high profile criminal law trials.

"I know he will be greatly missed and sadly he did not get to enjoy the benefits of a long and well-deserved retirement."

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