PHOENIX magazine (July 16, 2021) claims that information emanating from the office of the DPP has been responsible for undermining one of the most controversial criminal prosecutions in the Irish State.
The article reads in part:
SALLINS TRAIN TRIAL REVISITED
“THE FAMILY of Osgur Breatnach wrongly convicted of the 1976 Sallins train robbery, have launched a campaign for a public inquiry into the controversial trial convictions. This has been stimulated partly by new information emerging from the office of the director of public prosecutions that has lain undiscovered since the 1980s This means that the office of the DPP has been instrumental in helping to undermine the two most controversial criminal prosecution in the history of the state- the Sallins train trial and the garda attempt to prosecute Ian Bailey for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
In 1983, with the campaign to release Nicky Kelly from jail for the same robbery gaining ground, another ‘suspect, John Fitzpatrick, emerged from hiding and told a press conference that he had spent the night of the robbery with a family in Limerick, about 160Km away.
Three people from the family house in question backed up the statements in affidavits.
This threw up various problems for the prosecution and conviction. In particular, it contradicted what Kelly has said in his alleged ‘statement’ i.e., that Fitzpatrick had been at the robbery with him. Both men claimed that their ‘confessions’ had been beaten out of them, something the gardaí denied.
On foot of the statements by Fitzpatrick and witnesses in 1983 the then DPP Eamon Barnes reviewed the case and concluded there was no case against Fitzpatrick. But if he was innocent then the entire case against Kelly was fatally flawed. And there the matter ended- although key members of the government were aware of the DPP’s opinion- for close to another 10 years until in 1992, following the emergence of some new evidence, Kelly was granted a presidential pardon. In a disingenuous statement the government claimed its decision was based on a new review carried out by the attorney general’s office with the assistance of the DPP- a decade after that office had castigated the prosecutions.
Suppression of the 1983 DPP review meant it remained unknown during Kelly’s 38-day-long hunger strike in 1983, an episode that could have resulted in his death. It also remained hidden during later negotiations for compensation with those wrongly convicted. And when Fitzpatrick took an action for damages, the state failed to deliver the DPP review to his legal team…”