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Jail for teen who ‘prioritised holiday over legal obligations’

July 26th, 2021 11:40 AM

By Southern Star Team

The behaviour of the Cameron Blair trial witness was ‘blatant and premediated’ said the judge.

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BY ALISON O’RIORDAN

A ‘BLATANT’ contempt of court by a witness who travelled to Ayia Napa when he was due to give evidence in the trial of a teenager who committed violent disorder at the Cameron Blair murder scene has seen him jailed for two months.

Sentencing Darragh O’Connor at the Central Criminal Court, 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, (20) of Deermount, Deerpark, who admitted the offence of contempt of court, 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, Mr Justice 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’.

O’Connor and co-accused 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 16, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) discontinued the charge against the teen.

Before the State opened its case, the 16-year-old boy pleaded guilty to committing violent disorder with two other persons present together, using or threatening to use unlawful violence, and such conduct taken together would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at Bandon Road in Cork city to fear for his or another person’s safety at the said place on the same occasion.

The 16-year-old is expected to be sentenced at the Central Criminal Court later this month.

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.’

Cameron was a native of Ballinascarthy and died at 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 hearing for Craig O’Connor, Killala Court, Knocknaheeney, was also expected to take place but the court was told he had tested positive for Covid-19.

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