Used car salesman has conviction for IRA membership quashed

A used car salesman ‘Arthur Daley’ on Tuesday had his IRA membership conviction overturned after it emerged his defense team had not been informed that the main prosecution witness at the trial was a convicted felon.

Unusually, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) did not oppose the request, while the President of the Court of Appeal, Judge George Birmingham, said the circumstances of the case must now make l ‘under investigation. The court will later decide whether Robert O’Leary (43), who has been in prison since October 2020, should be tried again.

During his trial, the DPP claimed that a Skoda Octavia car used by the new IRA when they planted a bomb under a PSNI officer’s jeep at Shandon Park Golf Club in Belfast in June 2019 was provided by Mr. O’Leary.

Mr O’Leary (43), of Clancy Road, Finglas, Dublin, had pleaded not guilty to one count of membership in an illegal organization, in violation of section 21 of the Offenses Act 1939 against the State, as amended by section 48 of the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offenses) Act 2005.

However, the three-judge Special Criminal Court found him guilty of being a member of a group calling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise known as Óglaigh na hÉireann, at a state location on August 20, 2019.

He was sentenced to three years in prison in October 2020 by Judge Tony Hunt.

Mr O’Leary then appealed the conviction on the grounds that a newly discovered fact about the main prosecution witness meant he was dangerous.

At the Court of Appeal on Tuesday, President of the Court Judge George Birmingham, sitting with Judge Patrick McCarthy and Judge Aileen Donnelly, was told the DPP was not opposing the request to quash the conviction.

Paul Greene SC, for the DPP, told the court that it remains to be seen whether Mr. O’Leary should be retried on the original charge.

Mr. Greene also testified that the DPP had no objection to the Respondent’s request for bail.

In a court submission, lawyers for Mr O’Leary claimed the state’s main witness against their client, Nik Kasapi (40), was a convicted drug trafficker.

Kasapi, the defense said, had pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a quantity of drugs for sale or supply to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in May 2016 and was sentenced to two years and six months of imprisonment.

Kasapi, aka Armin Kasapovic, was also named in legal documents as the owner of a company called Millennium Motors and that he was wanted in Montenegro for drug-related offenses involving the sale or supply of $ 2 million. euros of cannabis.

It was further claimed that this information had not been disclosed to the defense despite repeated requests for disclosure.

“If these facts had been known before the trial, they would have had an impact on the credibility of the witness,” said the defense.

Claiming that a “very different approach to cross-examination would have been taken” had Kasapi’s criminal record been disclosed to them prior to trial, O’Leary’s attorneys said they were denied the opportunity “because of failure of the prosecution to comply with its disclosure obligations ”.

Before releasing Mr O’Leary on bail, Judge Birmingham said the circumstances which led the DPP to decide not to oppose a request to quash a conviction were “unusual” and should now do. under investigation.

“A situation where a witness has a previous conviction and that conviction is not disclosed is unsatisfactory,” he said.

After his arrest, Mr O’Leary told Garda he bought the Skoda Octavia for € 750 and held it for two or three days before selling it.

Comparing himself to Arthur Daley’s character from the 1980s comedy series ‘Minder’, he told officers his main business was beating up signs, but that he would also ‘flip’ used cars for $ 200. .

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