The High Court - Court of Appeal
A Tipperary man serving life for murder committed 20 years ago, has had a bid to have his conviction declared a miscarriage of justice dismissed by the Court of Appeal.
Anthony Buck (41), with a last address at Garrymore, Clonmel, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the murder of David Nugent in Tipperary on July 8, 1996.
He was convicted by a jury following “a lengthy trial” and was given the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice John Quirke on February 2, 1998.
The prosecution's case relied on incriminating statements made by Buck over the course of three interviews conducted following his arrest in July 1996.
In an earlier application, it was claimed to be of some significance that the Sunday in question was the day of the Munster Hurling Final between Limerick and Tipperary because efforts to contact a solicitor in Cahir, Cashel, Tipperary, Clonmel and Carrick on Suir were unsuccessfull.
The Court of Appeal dismissed Buck's bid to have his conviction declared a miscarriage of justice on the basis of new or newly discovered facts today (Friday). The Director of Public Prosecutions successfully sought to have the application dismissed as an “abuse of process” and Buck's bid failed before it went to full hearing.
Giving judgment, Mr Justice John Hedigan said Buck was a lay litigant. He had nonetheless prepared his written application with “great skill and considerable detail”.
Moreover, at the hearing the court was “impressed by the manner in which he presented his case. He was as brief as he could be and answered all questions of the court with courtesy, skill and care”.
In the court's judgment however, the application put forward no material that supported an application to have his conviction declared a miscarriage of justice. It did not include new or newly-discovered facts , as was required, and was “bound to fail”.
What Buck was doing, the judge said, was examining in detail the record of his own trial and drawing conclusions from matters that seemed to him to be contained in custody records, statements and memos of garda interviews of other named individuals.
Throughout his pleading and in his submissions to the court, Buck referred to his “belief” and to “things he thinks can be reasonably inferred”.
Mr Justice Hedigan said these “very expressions support the view that there are no new facts or newly discovered facts available to ground this application”. It was merely further argument based on the facts that existed at the time of the trial.
As to the argument Buck made concerning the ability of his legal representatives to appreciate the significance of certain matters at his trial, Mr Justice Hedigan said this was an “unstateable position”, bearing in mind that his legal team at the time was headed by Patrick McEntee SC, “the most distinguished criminal senior counsel of the day”.
Mr Justice Hedigan, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the DPP's motion to dismiss the application before it went to full hearing “must succeed”.