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Letterkenny man’s jail sentence overturned

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A LETTERKENNY man jailed for attempted rape had his conviction overturned on Thursday after the Supreme Court ruled that statements he made to gardai during questioning were inadmissible because they were made before he got legal advice.

Raymond Gormley (29), of Glenwood Park, Letterkenny was convicted in 2008 and sentenced to six years in jail for the attempted rape of a mother-of-two as she slept in her bedroom on April 24, 2005.

The conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court on Thursday after the court ruled that statements made by Mr Gormley to gardai, after he had requested a solicitor, but before that lawyer arrived, were inadmissible.

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THE Supreme Court has questioned the necessity for some so-called dawn raids by gardai in a ruling that could have major implications for future criminal investigations.

In his ruling Mr Justice Frank Clarke stated: In the case of DPP v Gormley, the Court has declared that “the entitlement not to self-incriminate incorporates an entitlement to legal advice in advance of mandatory questioning of a suspect in custody” and that “the right to a trial in due course of law encompasses a right to have early access to a lawyer after arrest and the right not be interrogated without having had an opportunity to obtain such advice. The conviction of a person wholly or significantly on the basis of evidence obtained contrary to those constitutional entitlements represents a conviction following an unfair trial process” (paragraph 9.13 of the judgment).

It is now believed Thursday’s ruling may have major implications for future garda investigations. The Supreme Court questioned the necessity for some so-called dawn raids by gardai where solicitors may not be immediately available.
This judgement also affects existing cases where convicted criminals have complained they had no access to legal advice during mandatory questioning by gardai.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said the judgment was an important ruling, which had brought a lot of clarity to an issue that had been the subject of much debate.
“Quite clearly, it impacts on how a range of criminal justice issues should be addressed or approached and, as a Supreme Court ruling, agencies involved must comply with the findings,” he said.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties said the ruling sent a clear message on fair trial reforms.

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