A FORMER Christian Brother's conviction for indecently assaulting a then 15-year-old boy in a Galway institution more than 20 years ago was quashed by the Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday.
The three-judge court allowed a number of grounds of appeal taken in the case of Paul Farrell, now aged 56, with an address at Kinvara Road, Dublin.
He had been sentenced by Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in July 2001 to a year in jail but has been on bail since his conviction.
Giving the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday, presiding judge Mr Justice Hugh Geoghegan said the court would treat the application for leave to appeal as the appeal. And it would also allow the appeal.
The court believed that, having regard to all the background and surrounding circumstances of the case, it was not appropriate to order a new trial, added Mr Justice Geoghegan. It would quash the conviction and not order a re-trial.
Following yesterday's decision, Mr Farrell, who was in court during the appeal, said his initial reaction was one of relief. He should not have been in court in the first place, he added.
In the Central Criminal Court, he had been convicted on two counts of indecent assault on dates between November 7 and March 31, 1982, when he worked as deputy director of St Joseph's, Salthill, Galway.
A number of grounds of appeal were advanced by Mr Felix McEnroy SC, for Mr Farrell, during yesterday's hearing in the CCA. The application for leave to appeal was opposed by the Director of Public Prosecutions. The grounds of appeal claimed that the trial judge had erred in law, and erred in a mixed question of law and fact in relation to the jury.
Another ground submitted that the trial judge had erred in failing to warn the jury of the dangers associated with a criminal trial in relation to allegations of indecent assault where there had been significant delay between the date of the alleged offence and the date of a criminal trial.
The CCA will deal with costs on December 18.