County Limerick burglary suspects back on streets after High Court bail

Donal O'Regan


Donal O'Regan

The Leader has learned that both suspects, who are in receipt of free legal aid, got bail in the High Court.

The Leader has learned that both suspects, who are in receipt of free legal aid, got bail in the High Court.

TWO MEN charged with committing burglaries in the county in recent months are back out on the streets despite their bail being revoked by Limerick gardai.

The Limerick Leader has learned that both suspects, who are in receipt of free legal aid, got bail in the High Court.

When they were charged with separate offences in local courts they were granted bail. However, Limerick gardai brought them back to court after one didn’t obey his bail conditions, while the other is alleged to have committed another offence while out on bail.

Their bails were revoked and they were remanded in custody until the High Court in Dublin granted them their freedom.

Deputy Niall Collins, who is aware of the court cases, said the public find it very difficult to understand how the High Court has overturned the decisions of a local district court where “local knowledge is a factor”.

A Limerick-based garda told the Limerick Leader that it is not unusual for the High Court to grant bail after defendants have been refused in lower courts.

“That’s the unfortunate nature of it. That’s how the system works. We make an application to have bail refused and the judge above makes a decision on it. 

“Each case is dealt with on its merits,” said the garda.

He continued: “There is an element of frustration when you go to the lengths of catching them, charging them, getting their bail revoked if they haven’t obeyed their conditions and then see them walking out of the High Court. Of course, there is the presumption of innocence until they are found guilty.”

Deputy Collins also raised the issue of free legal aid which is being availed of by the two men mentioned above. 

He said the taxpayer is footing the bill for their High Court applications.

“In relation to free legal aid, the public continue to be hugely frustrated with the perceived abuse of the free legal aid system. A week doesn’t go by when people don’t ask me why there isn’t a three strike rule –  after availing of legal aid three times you should be disbarred from it,” said Deputy Collins, who calls for a more detailed examination of people’s financial statement of means when they are applying for free legal aid. 

“There should be a defined budget. It shouldn’t be an open ended budget per case,” he said.

In February, the Limerick Leader revealed that payments totalling more than €2.7million were made relating to cases in County Limerick through the criminal legal aid scheme in 2017.

The figures, obtained by this newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act, show €1,261,334.73 was paid out in relation to cases before Limerick District Court while payments totalling €1,460,908.59 were made in relation to cases before Limerick Circuit Court during 2017.

The total amount paid through the criminal legal aid scheme last year represents an increase of just over €491,000 (18%) compared to the €2,230,972.1- which was paid in 2016.

The figures do not include payments made in relation to local cases which were heard before the Central Criminal Court or the Special Criminal Court.