A Moment Of Panic

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From top: Kevin O Connell from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement; RTÉ Prime Time‘s David McCullagh and Dearbhail McDonald last night

“We [Irish Independent] actually knew back in 2015 that this particular prosecution of Sean Fitzpatrick was in serious trouble and serious jeopardy but we couldn’t report it at that time.

Back in 2015, legal argument came in the absence of a jury about key aspects of the trial and one of those included the manner in which statements were taken from two key witnesses Vincent Bergin and Kieran Kelly who were audit partners in Ernst & Young which we now know as EY.

But I suppose what I recall as the most staggering event possibly in 2015 was the day we were in court and the day that it emerged that the lead investigator Kevin O’Connell who was a solicitor, who wasn’t experie-, he was a solicitor for the ODCE and in charge of this investigation but he wasn’t overly experienced in dealing with serious indictable offences, he didn’t have much experience in the taking of witness statements.

And he admitted, it emerged, he went home, after six days of cross examanation in the Circuit Court, that he had shredded documents in what he described as a moment of panic when he went back to his office. I think it was the May bank holiday weekend.

And that was absolutely staggering at that point in time. We couldn’t report it because Mr O’Connell, whom the ODCE today revealed had been hospitalised in the immediate aftermath of that revelation for a period of time.

The case ended there and it is only now that the case has concluded, by way of direction of acquittal by the trial judge that we are able to report those facts.”

Dearbhail McDonald, of the Irish Independent on RTÉ’s Prime Time last night.

Meanwhile…

Gardaí are trained in taking witness statements. O’Connell, who was centrally involved, had never taken a witness statement before. The whole process, [Brendan[ Condon [Sean Fitzpatrick’s barrister] said, was “lawyer-led”. It was “statement by committee”, with the statements being constructed as if for civil proceedings. But this was not the commercial court. It was a criminal prosecution and it should have been investigated in the normal way.

Unknown to Condon, when O’Connell was in the witness box answering questions about these matters, the ODCE solicitor had a particular worry on his mind.

What documents should and should not be disclosed to the defence by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was one of the matters Condon was complaining about in his critique of how his client was being treated. O’Connell was worried about the decision not to disclose a particular document to the defence. According to Condon’s later view, that document would have revealed that the DPP was being kept informed as to how O’Connell was going about his work. The decision not to disclose the document, an email, Condon was to say in court in 2016, caused O’Connell to fear that he was going to be “hung out to dry” by the DPP.

O’Connell feared that the DPP was “deliberately suppressing the email”, Condon said, and this caused O’Connell to “panic”.

The banker, the investigator and the shredding of documents (Colm Keena, Irish Times)

Earlier: You Are Free To Go

41 thoughts on “A Moment Of Panic

  1. phil

    The problem for me is, I don’t understand any of this. It feels like something very wrong happened , maybe even a conspiracy. I also feel I will never find out and the establishment will just move on…

  2. Cian

    Why did the trial take place in 2016 then? Why didn’t it get stopped before becoming the longest running case in Irish history?

  3. Eoin

    I hope all the Goldman and JP Morgan sociopaths who’ll be coming over here (after Brexit starts to bite) don’t take this as a license to do what ever they want?

    1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

      They do what they want anyway. Us being a basket case won’t make any difference.

    2. Frilly Keane

      Sur thats what they do anyway

      Doing what the púc they like
      Wherever
      Whenever
      Is their Mission

  4. Bob

    Why didn’t the press report that this was a waste of time when it was known in 2015. Surely breaking protocol is less important than allowing this charade to go on as long as it did.

    1. Eoin

      …and if the press had their hands tied by the law then why didn’t someone use Dail privilege to report this salient piece of nationally important information? I assume that could have been done?

      1. Frilly Keane

        Why didn’t the Comptroller & Audit General flag it as an unnecessary squander of public funds keeping a prosecution on the go when there was no chance of a successful and solid conviction?

        I’m surprised the Courts Service haven’t had sum’ting to say

    2. Barry the Hatchet

      It wouldn’t have been “breaking protocol”, Bob. It would have been contempt of court, which is a criminal offence.

  5. Increasing Displacement

    If it’s not spreading a message of terror there’s no money to be made.
    Press…fu

  6. Harry Molloy

    This probably won’t be a popular opinion but I feel sorry for O’Connell. He was vastly under resourced and under experienced for one of the biggest and most technical investigations in the state and it had a horrific toll on his mental health.

        1. It Won't Stand Up In Court

          Your political affiliation affects your critical thinking. And not in a positive way.

          1. Harry Molloy

            lad, my comment was a criticism of the incompetence of the establishment. your judgement is clouded by who delivered the opinion, which is quite common to be fair.

          2. It Won't Stand Up In Court

            Oh I understand perfectly well what the basis of your rationale is. That’s why I attacked you personally. Your failure to join the dots is also quite common. After all who approves the budget or provides the resources to run the essential tools of governance such as public prosecutions for white collar fraud, like this one? It’s only the current members of the executive, isn’t it? You’re a dope. It’s not even worth my while explaining things like this to the likes of yourself as you’ll never get it.

          3. Harry Molloy

            What you said is in no way incompatible with my original comment and it’s not exactly news that regulation and enforcement has had a very low bar in this country. unfortunately, while it is improving, there has been a lot of historical damage.

            and this is the last time I justify a simple opinion to an abusive response

          4. martco

            +1
            but I agree for Harry

            my reading of it was this fella was just left holding probably one of the biggest babies ever in the history of the state and fell apart. people do strange things under pressure, I’d like to hear the full story on what happened from his pov

            I did some project work in that ODCE dept in 2009 and from what I saw it is a 2 men and a dog operation generally, mickeyloads of outsourcing, you’d have thought with something like this the state would/could/should have thrown money and brainpower at it however. Which makes me think that there wasn’t the appetite to get this over the line, that this under resourcing was deliberate…a created incompetence if you will…for me there’s a rotten smell off it all and I don’t think thats being tinfoil.

            I hope this continues to get dug at by some smart journo say and in time the whole story comes along and yes maybe it IS political interference but I doubt this lad has an account in the Caymans and is part of it :) more I reckon this O’Connell fella was a manufactured patsy and will carry this error for the rest of his life. unlike that other smiling c—.

          5. Andrew

            You see Harry, some people don’t simply accept that they disagree with you, they make it a moral thing as well. You’re not just wrong in their eyes, you are a bad person as well.
            It’s childish but a commonly held view of those of a certain political persuasion.

          6. Moderate THIS!

            @ Martco

            What you said but isn’t that exactly what that Stand Up In Court also said? That the whole thing is deliberately underfunded. It’s got nothing to do with whether an individual was ill or incompetent. It’s a deliberately designed failed system. Brought to you by the sort of austerity cheerleading scum Harry masturbates over. The state of him saying he won’t reason with “abuse” when all he does is spread the comments section with a top dressing of right wing media parrot manure here daily. Fupp off so Harry if you can’t handle a bit of your own crap thrown back

      1. classter

        I don’t feel quite as generous as Harry on O’Connell but he has a point.

        We have known for quite some time that we do not currently have the expertise or resources within the state system to adequately investigate and prosecute white collar crime.

        1. Frilly Keane

          Boo boos

          the Central Bank do
          CAB do

          Get them to get stuck in
          They work for us anyway

          And tis about time the Central Bank take their claws out of the Credit Unions and sharpen them for some real Financial gurriers

          Same with CAB

        2. Moderate THIS!

          Absolute bull. Another centrist right lickspittle and toad I see. We don’t have the political will

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      “This probably won’t be a popular opinion”

      Probably not, but you posted it anyway. I admire your bravery. Your posts make me want to be friends with you and find out why you’re so cool and prinicpled. I bet you’re a really deep thinker.

    2. Outpost

      Agreed. The DPP should be asked to explain why the second trial was allowed to proceed, notwithstanding the evidential deficit that was by then apparent. And why exactly was that document (about the DPP being kept in the loop) not disclosed to the defence??

  7. ahjayzis

    A comedy of fupp-uos. If this was scripted Yes Minister would have rejected it for lack of realism. Not one arm of the state, NOT FUPPING ONE, does it’s job in a way in any way acceptable in a 21st century republic.

    1. Eoin

      Having a general air of incompetence throws us off the scent of criminality. Maybe everything works as it’s supposed to, with ignorance and incompetence as a cover for criminality?

      1. Topsy

        On the button. I never expected Fitzpatrick to get convicted. That’s the way things are. Next up the Marian Finucane show.

  8. Junkface

    He was a Patsy. The whole thing was a setup to protect a very wealthy man. Basically they pulled the same plot line as the Big Lebowski. This guy Kevin was hired because they knew that he would f*** it up, just like the Dude! This is how Ireland works. No surprises, just staggering levels of corruption

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