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The Dog Ate the Homework

In July 2008 the Supreme Court delivered judgment in two separate cases addressing the same point: the need for the Gardai/prosecution to preserve all evidence pertaining to an alleged offence.

That this should emerge twice in the one month, in the Supreme Court is a measure of two things; the frequency with which the Gardai prematurely dispose of evidence and the sclerosis of the criminal prosecution system that it should so stubbornly cling to the determination to prosecute in cases where the accused claims to be disadvantaged in making his/her defence.

In the first case the accused was denied an Order of Prohibition restraining his prosecution HERE whereas in the second the accused was successful HERE. Here the prosecution eventually decided that the case against the accused turned on the fact that the tyres on his vehicle were defective. (He was accused of dangerous driving causing death). Having ascertained that this was the case against him he sought to have the tyres examined by a motor engineer of his choice. He was refused on the ground that the Gardai did not have the tyres any more. It transpired that they had been returned to the owner of the truck being driven by the accused and the owner had destroyed the tyres.