Ireland

Witness in Cameron Blair case jailed for ‘blatant’ contempt after flying to Ayia Napa

A man has been sentenced to two months in jail after a “blatant” contempt of court when he travelled to Ayia Napa instead of giving evidence as a witness in the trial of a teenager who committed violent disorder at the Cameron Blair murder scene.

Sentencing Darragh O’Connor at the Central Criminal Court on Friday, Mr Justice David Keane said the contempt of court in this case was “blatant and premeditated” and its consequences could only be viewed as “serious” as it had “plainly disrupted” the conduct of a trial.

The judge said O’Connor, who admitted the offence of contempt of court on Friday, had made a “calculated and deliberate” decision to prioritise his “holiday decisions over legal obligations”.

A message must go out to every court in the land, the judge Keane stressed, that failure to comply with witness summons and the inevitable disruptions that this causes is “a cause of action that cannot be tolerated.”

It was the State’s belief that O’Connor (20), of Deermount, Deerpark, Cork and his co-accused had left the jurisdiction in order to avoid giving evidence at the trial of a 16-year-old accused.

Witness orders

O’Connor and Craig O’Donoghue (20) were served with witness orders last May, which required them to give evidence at the juvenile’s trial last month.

However, they travelled to Ayia Napa at the end of May and were not available to give evidence.

On May 28th, a 16-year-old accused who cannot be named because he is a minor, went on trial charged with the production of a knife at a house on Bandon Road in Cork city on January 16th, 2020.

He had been on trial at the Central Criminal Court, which was sitting in Croke Park, for almost three weeks before the case ended last month.

On June 16th, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) discontinued the charge against the teenager and will enter a nolle prosequi against him in due course meaning the State will not proceed with the charge of producing a knife against the juvenile.

Serious injury

The accused, who was 14 at the time of the incident, had pleaded not guilty to producing an article capable of inflicting serious injury in the course of a dispute, with a knife, in a manner likely to unlawfully intimidate another person.

Before the State opened its case on May 28th, the 16-year-old boy pleaded guilty to committing violent disorder with two other people present, using or threatening to use unlawful violence, and such conduct taken together would cause a person present at Bandon Road in Cork to fear for his or another person’s safety.

The DPP said it was not proceeding with the count of possession of a knife in circumstances where the accused accepted he was in possession of a butter knife during the course of events that evening.

The 16-year-old is expected to be sentenced at the Central Criminal Court on July 23rd.

Production order

Counsel for the teenager, Timothy O’Leary SC, had told the trial court that he would have required the two witnesses who had travelled to Ayia Napa “in relation to my defence.”

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Cameron was a native of Ballinascarthy in west Cork and a second-year chemical engineering student at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT).

He died at Cork University Hospital (CUH) on January 16th, 2020 after being stabbed in the neck while attending a student party at a house in Cork city. Another juvenile has already pleaded guilty to his murder.

The sentence hearing for Darragh O’Connor’s co-accused Mr O’Donoghue, of Killala Court, Knocknaheeney, Cork was also expected to take place on Friday, but the court was told that he has tested positive for Covid-19.

A production order for Mr O’Donoghue was made for next Wednesday and “if matters allow” the court will then proceed to a hearing.

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