Belfast Telegraph

Jury concern over FitzPatrick trial

A judge has raised concerns over the availability of jurors for the trial of former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive and chairman Sean FitzPatrick and two senior executives.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring said an extended jury panel may be needed to select 12 jurors for the complex case, which is expected to last between three and six months.

She said the Court Service will have to make arrangements to have a larger panel available for start of the trial on January 13 next year at the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin.

"I am anxious from an administrative position to know how large a group of people may be required in light of the commitment they are being asked to give," the judge said.

FitzPatrick, 64, former finance director William McAteer, 62, and former managing director of lending Pat Whelan, 50, face 16 charges of trying to falsely inflate the toxic lender's share price in 2008.

The judge excused all three from any further mentions of the case until a pre-trial hearing on November 1, when they are expected to enter a plea to each charge. The case will be mentioned again on May 8.

The 16 charges against each man are linked to loans of 451 million euro in an alleged plot involving the family of bankrupt former billionaire Sean Quinn and a golden circle of clients hand picked to invest in stock to prop up the share price.

The judge said the court was conscious that under present provisions if two people in trial became unavailable for whatever reason, it leaves the jury in a precarious position.

"All it needs is for one more to become unavailable to start again," she said. "If a jury collapses because of the unavailability of jurors, recommencing immediately would be problematic."

Separately, FitzPatrick has been charged and sent forward for trial on 12 counts of giving auditors false or misleading information on directors' loans of at least 140 million euro (£117.7 million) over a six-year period. That case has been adjourned to the Circuit Criminal Court on March 22.


From Belfast Telegraph