Limerick man found not guilty of false imprisonment

Special Criminal Court dismisses charge

Daniel Hickey

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Daniel Hickey

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Limerick man found not guilty of false imprisonment

Mark Heffernan denies assaulting Dan Quilligan - Picture: Press 22

A Limerick man has been found not guilty of falsely imprisoning another man at a house in the city 18 months ago.

Lawyers for Mark Heffernan who is charged in connection with in a nail-gun attack on Dan Quilligan, had argued that any suspected false imprisonment was a feature of the alleged assault and "wholly encompassed" by the assault charge.  

Mr Heffernan, aged 33, of Swallow Drive, John Carew Park, Southill had denied falsely imprisoning the 53-year-old at a house at Larch Court, Kennedy Park on September 14, 2015. He also denies assaulting him at the same location on the same date.

It is the prosecution case that three men were involved in a "joint enterprise" during which Mr Quilligan, who lives in Rathkeale, was beaten and his left foot nailed with a nail-gun to the kitchen floor of a house in Limerick. 

Two other men were each jailed for three years after they admitted assaulting Mr Quilligan.

At the Special Criminal Court this Friday, Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, said the court was dismissing the charge of false imprisonment against Mr Heffernan.

He said any evidence of false imprisonment was "integral to the unusual method by which Mr Quilligan was assaulted" and that it would be "more fairly dealt with under the assault charge".

The judge also referred to the evidence of protected witness Tom Lillis who testified that he saw Mr Heffernan in the house at Larch Court on the day of the alleged assault. 

Mr Justice Hunt said that this part of Mr Lillis' evidence did not reach the standard upon which a jury could convict. 

Therefore, he said, the court would be excluding that portion of Mr Lillis' evidence. 

The basis of previous knowledge of Mr Heffernan, on the evidence of Mr Lillis, was "very slim indeed", the judge added. 

He said that Mr Lillis was an "eyewitness to events" in the Larch Court house but that his recognition evidence is excluded.

The court heard the prosecution "has to put together a circumstantial case, or there is no case". 

The (assault) trial resumes on Monday in front of Mr Justice Hunt, sitting with Judge John O'Hagan and Judge Ann Ryan.