Friday, October 16, 2020

Worries over Covid-19 travel restrictions have resulted in the final two weeks of the Circuit Court sitting in Mayo remaining in Castlebar.

With the Central Criminal Court hearing trials at Castlebar Courthouse from September to Christmas, it was planned to hold the final two weeks of Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court at Galway courthouse from Tuesday next. Three trials and various sentence hearings were due to be heard before Judge Rory MacCabe at the venue.

Legal practitioners, including barristers and solicitors, objected to the move last July stating it would have serious implications for court proceedings.

Judge Rory MacCabe.

However, last week it emerged that one trial would involve an accused person travelling from Cork as well as witnesses travelling from Belmullet, a two and a half hour trip, and having to sit in their car until they were called to give evidence to accommodate social distancing within the courthouse, which has a very small lobby. The trial was due to be heard over five days. It was agreed to adjourn this case to December 4 next in Castlebar in a list to fix future hearing dates.

In one of the trials, the accused pleaded guilty to a single harassment charge meaning a trial was no longer required which left Judge MacCabe with one trial in which the defence noted they were ready to proceed over the next two weeks.

After considering his decision, Judge MacCabe acceded to the request of the prosecution, who had outlined reasons the trial may not be able to go ahead. These included that witnesses would have to travel through a number of counties to get to Galway while the country was in level 3 Covid-19 restrictions and could possibly be moved to level 4 or 5 over the next few weeks.

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Majella Loftus"

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