Sunday 24 February 2019

Brian Rattigan to face retrial after murder conviction overturned

Brian Rattigan faces retrial
Brian Rattigan faces retrial

Brian Rattigan is facing a retrial just four months after he won an appeal against his conviction for the murder of a man almost 17 years ago.

In December, by a three to two majority, the Supreme Court overturned Rattigan's 2009 conviction for the murder of Declan Gavin (21), who died after being stabbed outside Abrakebabra in Dublin's Crumlin Shopping Centre on August 25, 2001.

Rattigan remains in jail for a 2013 conviction for drug dealing while in custody.


In seeking a retrial on the murder charge, Pauline Walley, for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), said the director had conducted a genuine review of the matter and considered there should be a retrial.

Brendan Grehan, for Rattigan, argued that another trial would be unfair on grounds including lapse of time and alleged prejudicial publicity.

Giving the court's ruling, the Chief Justice, Mr Justice Frank Clarke, said the test for a retrial is whether it is in the interests of justice that one should be ordered.

In that regard, the DPP maintained the matter concerns a serious criminal offence, murder, and that it is in the public interest the matter is retried, while Rattigan's legal team argued there were several factors against retrial.

Mr Justice Clarke said the most common reason not to permit a retrial was not present in this case.

A retrial should not be permitted if it is intended to allow the prosecution to mend its hand after being unable to prove its case at the original trial, but that was not an issue here, he said.

The trial judge is obliged to ensure a fair trial, that all procedural requirements are complied with and, if there is a conviction or sentence, all relevant matters would be considered, he added.

Declan Gavin pic courtesy rte
Declan Gavin pic courtesy rte

Mr Justice Clarke also pointed out that a retrial should only be refused if there was a clear case there could not be a fair trial for reasons such as delay or prejudicial pre-trial publicity.

Having considered the arguments on those grounds, the court concluded it would direct a retrial and remit the matter to the Criminal Courts of Justice for that purpose.

Rattigan, of Cooley Road, Drimnagh, Dublin, denies the murder of Mr Gavin.

He won his appeal against conviction after the majority Supreme Court found some closing comments to the jury by the trial judge, Mr Justice George Birmingham, involved him unintentionally engaging in "a piece of advocacy in favour of the prosecution".

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