The group of six accused deny falsely imprisoning former Tánaiste Joan Burton in 2014
The judge in the trial of six men accused of falsely imprisoning Joan Burton has asked the jury to be “fearless” in their deliberations.
The group of accused, which includes Solidarity TD Paul Murphy and two of the party’s councillors, deny falsely imprisoning Ms Burton and her adviser Karen O’Connell.
The offences are alleged to have happened while they were attending a graduation ceremony in Jobstown in Dublin in 2014.
It has been just over two months since a jury was sworn in to hear the trial.
Since then, the court has heard the evidence of the alleged victims Joan Burton and her adviser Karen O’Connell and watched hours of footage harvested from CCTV cameras, YouTube and Facebook.
It took all of last week for the prosecuting barrister and the six remaining legal teams to deliver their closing arguments and the judge spent the day summarising the case and guiding the eleven men and women through the relevant law and legal principles involved.
Judge Melanie Greally began by telling the jurors she didn't expect them to be deaf or blind to the political background of the time and the opposition to water charges.
She said they may feel a natural sympathy for their predicament, but she urged them to be fearless and approach the facts in an analytical and dispassionate manner.
It is the prosecution’s case that each of the accused engaged in a joint enterprise to falsely imprison the then Tánaiste and her adviser in two Garda vehicles. They are alleged to have done so intentionally.
The defence argues there was no false imprisonment – that the accused were exercising their right to protest and were doing so peacefully. They deny the women’s freedom was totally restricted – an essential ingredient for the offence.
Judge Greally told the jurors they would have to consider if the sit-down protest at the Garda vehicles was merely an obstruction.
She asked them to consider whether they had a reasonable means of escape, whether getting out of the car was an option and whether they could have reversed up the Fortunestown Road.
She said all six are entitled to an acquittal if the jury finds there was no total restraint and also if there was no intention to falsely imprison.