Tactics "characteristic of comedians and propagandists" are being used by the prosecution in the trial of four men accused of abducting and assaulting Quinn Industrial Holdings director Kevin Lunney, a barrister has told the Special Criminal Court.
Giollaiosa O'Lideadha SC, for the accused man Alan O'Brien, said Sean Guerin SC for the prosecution had asserted that the defence was trying to give criminals "invisibility" or make it so that they would never again have to wear balaclavas by having CCTV evidence ruled as inadmissible in court. This was not, he said, an argument that was made by the defence.
Mr O'Lideadha added: "This is a tactic characteristic of comedians and propagandists which is to mischaracterise the argument raised by the other side in order to pour scorn on it."
Mr O'Lideadha said his client's and the wider public's privacy rights had been breached by gardai accessing CCTV footage from various locations between Dublin and Cavan on different dates. The evidence in this case, counsel said, shows that there were no procedures in place to safeguard privacy rights, something that is required under the Constitution and European regulations. He told the three-judge court that if they admit the CCTV evidence, "that gives a green light to a system with no restraint and which is capable of infringing the rights of the population at large."
A 40-year-old man known as YZ, Alan O’Brien (40), of Shelmalier Road, East Wall, Dublin 3, Darren Redmond (27), from Caledon Road, East Wall, Dublin 3 and Luke O’Reilly (67), with an address at Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan have all pleaded not guilty to false imprisonment and intentionally causing serious harm to Mr Lunney at Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan on September 17, 2019.
Mr Lunney has told the court that he was bundled into the boot of a car near his home and driven to a container where he was threatened and told to resign as a director of Quinn Industrial Holdings. His abductors cut him with a Stanley knife, stripped him to his boxer shorts, doused him in bleach, broke his leg with two blows of a wooden bat, beat him on the ground, cut his face and scored the letters QIH into his chest. They left him bloodied, beaten and shivering on a country road at Drumcoghill in Co Cavan where he was discovered by a man driving a tractor.
Michael O'Higgins SC, for the unnamed accused, said gardai accessed CCTV with no scrutiny and no consideration of the constitutional and privacy rights of individuals. He said the only time civil rights are considered is when a criminal case is taken before the courts where CCTV is challenged and a judge is asked to adjudicate. "Otherwise," he said, "there is no scrutiny at all."
Mr O'Higgins also took issue with a submission by Mr Guerin that by trying to exclude CCTV evidence, the defence was trying to give the accused Dumbledore's "cloak of invisibility" or make it so that criminals would never again have to wear balaclavas. Mr O'Higgins said that case was not made by the defence. He said: "We are asking them to prove the lawful provenance of the evidence, not seeking to make factories that make balaclavas redundant."
Counsel further submitted that the prosecution can take no comfort from the fact that CCTV owners willingly handed over footage to gardai. The CCTV owners, he said, do not own the personal, private data of individuals who are recorded going about their business by their cameras. He said: "Material which is personal data isn't within the gift of the Applegreen Service Station, or anyone else, to give out like that." The consent of the shop owner or manager, counsel said, does not make it lawful.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh, adjourned the trial until next Thursday when the court will rule on the admissibility of mobile phone and CCTV evidence.
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