The Criminal Courts of Justice, Dublin
ONE of the jurors in the Munster child abuse trial wrote a letter to the judge after the trial was over, the Central Criminal Court has heard.
The five family members were found guilty of all but one of the 78 counts against them following a ten week trial that took place between May and August this year.
An extended jury panel of 15 was empanelled at the start of the trial, which took place in Croke Park. Just 12 jurors took part in the deliberations, which ran for nearly 20 hours.
The three men and two women appeared before the Central Criminal Court earlier this Monday where a date was set for their sentence hearing.
Mr Justice Paul McDermott told the court that he recently received a letter from a member of the jury in the trial. He said he was not going to go into the contents of the letter, which involved the juror's “views of the jury system”.
The judge handed out copies to all of the barristers involved in the case to ensure everyone was “fully appraised of what happened”.
The judge said he was of the view that the letter should not prevent him from proceeding to sentence the accused. Bernard Condon SC, prosecuting, agreed with the judge.
The judge said he would give the defence teams leave to return to court at a later date if they wished to raise any concerns about the contents of the letter.
The five family members, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were found guilty of sexually abusing three children on dates during 2014, 2015 and 2016.
They are the parents, aunt and uncles of the children. They range in ages from 27 to 56. All of the offences took place in Munster on unknown dates between August 2014 and April 2016.
The parents were also found guilty of wilfully neglecting five of their children while the father was found guilty of mistreating three of them by giving them medication. All of the defendants had denied all of the charges against them.
Extensive reporting restrictions are in place to protect the welfare and identities of the children, who were taken into care in 2016. They were aged between one and nine at the time of the offending.
Mr Condon said that victim impact reports would be ready by the start of December. He estimated the sentence hearing would take up to two days.
Anthony Sammon SC, representing the aunt, told the court that a psychologist engaged to work with the 35-year-old woman had asked for three months to complete his report.
Accordingly, Mr Justice McDermott set a sentence date of January 10 next year. He remanded all five in continuing custody until then.
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