'Jobstown Seven' trial opens

Jurors were asked to leave prejudice and sympathy out of the jury room

'Jobstown Seven' trial opens

Image: RollingNews.com

The trial has opened of Solidarity TD Paul Murphy and six others who are accused of falsely imprisoning the former Tánaiste Joan Burton.

They are also accused of falsely imprisoning her adviser Karen O’Connell during a water charge protest at Jobstown in Dublin on November 15th 2014.

Opening the case on behalf of the prosecution, Sean Gillane asked the jurors to leave prejudice and sympathy out of the jury room.

“To bring them in would be a disaster”, he said.

He said the offence of false imprisonment should not be confused with kidnapping. He said it was the intentional or reckless restriction of the personal liberty of another without the other’s consent.

He said “motivation does not confer an immunity on anyone from the operation of the criminal law” and that while everyone is entitled to hold and express political views or opinions, their views “do not become more privileged or worthy of protection by the number of people who share it, nor does it become more privileged if it’s held and expressed by someone in a position of power”.

The seven men and five women of the jury heard Joan Burton TD was walking towards a local church in Jobstown, Dublin 24 where she was due to make a speech at a graduation ceremony when a group of protesters began shouting abuse and hurling water balloons and eggs at her.

After delivering her speech to the graduates inside the church, Mr. Gillane said it was decided Deputy Burton should leave through a side entrance. He said she and her adviser Ms. O’Connell were taken to an unmarked Garda car which was then immediately surrounded. He said items were thrown at the car and he said it will be alleged that a number of people sat down and prevented it from moving. He said the car was trapped for an hour.

The jury heard the women were transferred to a Garda jeep through the formation of a human cordon by Gardaí. Mr. Gillane said the jeep was then surrounded and unable to leave the area. He said it was being banged on and people again sat down in front of it to prevent it from moving.

He said it will be alleged that Solidarity TD Paul Murphy (34) then addressed the crowd and asked: “if they withdraw the Public Order Unit, will we let them go?”

At approx 3.45pm, the court heard the jeep was slowly making its way out of the area but was still being frustrated by a number of people when the former Tánaiste and Ms. O’Connell made a run for two awaiting Garda vehicles.

The accused are Paul Murphy TD (33) from Kingswood Heights in Tallaght; Solidarity Councillor Michael Murphy (53) from Whitechurch Way in Ballyboden in Dublin; his fellow Solidarity Councillor on South Dublin County Council Kieran Mahon (39) from Bolbrook Grove in Tallaght; Masterson (34) from Carrigmore Drive in Tallaght; Frank Donaghy (71) from Alpine Rise in Tallaght; Michael Banks (46) from Brookview Green in Tallaght and Ken Purcell (50) from Kiltalown Green in Tallaght.

The trial is due to hear from Joan Burton tomorrow morning.