‘Truth out there’ Full article by Maresa Fagan in The Irish Times

Fr Niall Molloy: ‘Truth out there’ as chapter in unsolved death closes

Relatives believe it is not too late to find answers; Man acquitted of 1985 manslaughter dies

Drizzle fell as a stream of cars began to arrive on Monday into Tubberclair, near Athlone a half an hour before the funeral mass began.

Two hundred mourners had come to mark the passing of Richard Flynn, a man acquitted of assault and manslaughter of a priest in a trial that lasted less than a day, 30 years ago, which still remains controversial.

Mr Flynn’s daughter Sandra read William Butler Yeats’s The Lake Isle of Innisfree, while his grandchildren brought gifts at the start of the service, remembering his life.

They included a photograph to show his love of family, a rugby ball marking his passion for sport, an Irish language book for his love of Gaelic and a radio for his abiding interest in current affairs.

Later, the Galway-born native, who had lived into his 80s and died in a nursing home after a long illness, was laid to rest beside his late wife Therese in the cemetery adjacent to the church.

Truth

Mr Flynn’s passing closes another chapter in the unsolved killing of Fr Niall Molloy in 1985, though the priest’s relatives believe that the truth is still to be uncovered despite the passage of the years.

It was a case that shocked and fascinated: a priest found dead in the bedroom of a prominent business couple in 1985 was the stuff of popular soap operas, like Dynasty and Dallas, but not life in a rural village in the Irish midlands.

In the words of The Observer, one of many international titles to follow every twist and turn, it offered a “rich mix” of religion, high finance, horse breeding and even politics.

For the Roscommon-born Fr Molloy, July 7th began as usual, with the celebration of Sunday Mass in his parish of Fuerty. Later, however he made his way to Clara in Co Offaly.

There, he went to Kilcoursey House, the home of his friends of three decades, Richard and Theresa Flynn to join in the revelries of a family wedding that had taken place the day before.

He was a frequent visitor to the 23-roomed Tudor-style home. The former Army Chaplain shared an interest in horses and show jumping with the Flynns, who owned and ran a number of businesses in the Midlands.

Within hours, however, the keen horseman was found dead in the house’s master bedroom: the exact time of death remains uncertain, like much else that night, but it was sometime between 10pm and the early hours of Monday.

Emergency Services 

His face was bloodied and bruised. His body showed no defensive marks. A long bloody dragmark on the white bedroom carpet suggested the body was moved. Blood smears and spatters were evident in the room and elsewhere.

Emergency services were never called. Medical evidence later suggested the priest may have been alive for several hours after the assault. Richard Flynn telephoned a now-deceased local priest at 1am to come and be prepared for an anointment.

It was after 3am before local gardai were alerted. By this time the family doctor, who like many others in the story is now dead, was at the house, as were other members of the Flynn family; Therese Flynn had been taken to hospital.

When questioned, Richard Flynn admitted he was the culprit. Charged subsequently with the manslaughter and assault of Fr Molloy the 47-year-old businessman was acquitted of all charges a year later.

In a trial that lasted less than four hours, Justice Frank Roe, then President of the Circuit Court, directed the jury to acquit. The medical evidence, Judge Roe said, was inconclusive and it would be improper to convict on Mr Flynn’s statement alone.

“It is a little bit unusual but not improper of me to say that no one intended any injury to be caused,” Judge Roe remarked. The acquittal came despite Garda concerns over monies owed to Fr Molloy after a land deal fell through.

A month later, a jury in an inquest decided, however, that that Fr Molloy had, in fact, died from head injuries, which prompted a public outcry and calls in political circles for the case to be re-examined.

Medical Evidence

In 1988 even more questions were raised when new medical evidence suggested that Fr Molloy had survived for a number of hours after the assault. In the years that followed there were a succession of yet more extraordinary twists and turns.

Files on the case were among a batch stolen from the offices of the Director of Public Prosecutions in August 1987 – in a theft carried out, it is believed, by criminal, Martin Cahill, otherwise known as The General.

In 1988 Therese Flynn was linked to a fraudulent life insurance claim on Fr Molloy’s life but denied any wrongdoing or knowledge of the policy, which was eventually paid out to the Molloy family.

In 1994 there were claims that Judge Roe was known to both the Flynns and Fr Molloy and should not have heard the court case.

The case refused to go away. New medical evidence was brought to light in 1988 but nothing came of it at that time.

On a rare occasion, after the trial and inquest, when Mr Flynn spoke to one national newspaper, the Sunday Independent where he said his “conscience was clear” and that he had “never lost a moment’s sleep”.

Other features in the case begged questions about the Garda investigation, the criminal trial and, over two decades later, allegations of a ‘cover-up involving several arms of the state’.

‘Cover-up’

In response to these allegations and new witnesses coming forward, the Garda Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT) embarked on a review of the case in 2010 and spent two and a half years re-interviewing witnesses and reconsidering evidence. The inquiry, however, did not result in any new prosecutions.

And in March 2015 the Government ruled out the prospect of a public inquiry. A senior barrister appointed to review the SCRT findings concluded that an inquiry was unlikely to establish the truth.

“It is unlikely given the passage of time, the death of many of the pertinent witnesses and the reluctance of others voluntarily to give evidence, that any further inquiry would have a reasonable prospect of establishing the truth,” senior counsel, Dominic McGinn said.

‘Disturbing’ features

Acknowledging that there were many “disturbing” features and matters of public concern, McGinn’s inquiry also pointed to serious failings by gardaí in their investigation.

Despite Richard Flynn’s passing, the Molloy family continues to pursue a full commission of investigation: “We don’t believe it’s too late, the truth is still out there. Individuals with vital information relating to Fr Niall’s death are still alive and there is still new evidence emerging,” Bill Maher, a nephew of Fr Molloy’s said.

“As far as the family is concerned the case is far from over. There are too many shortcomings and glaring inconsistencies to ignore and we will continue to push for a full independent investigation,” he added

However, the McGinn report did put to bed some of the theories that abounded since the death. Frank Roe’s directed acquittal was “extraordinary”, but it was within the law.

The 109-page report also found no documentary evidence to substantiate claims that the judge, a popular figure in racing circles who passed away in 2003, was known to the Flynns, or to Fr Molloy.

Numerous questions

Nevertheless, the outstanding questions are numerous. Why did gardaí not interview guests who attended the Flynn wedding on July 6th? Why were no door-to-door enquiries carried out?

Why was a break-in at Fr Molloy’s house not investigated? Why was Fr Molloy’s broken watch returned to his family without being investigated? Why was a medical report that could have placed “a different complexion” on the case not sought?

Why was a statement from Fr Molloy’s solicitor in relation to a land deal with the Flynn’s not included in the investigation? Thirty one years have passed, and the Molloys are closer to answers.

In July 2015, relatives of Fr Molloy met with Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to raise their concerns over the McGinn-identified shortcomings, where they shared graphic photographic evidence of injuries suffered by Fr Molloy.

The family have since taken a case against the police force for ‘neglect of duty’ in the 1985 investigation. The complaint is currently being investigated by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.

“The McGinn report and the Serious Crime Review Team identified numerous breaches of procedures in the original investigation, where many basic enquiries or checks were not carried out,” Mr Maher, a nephew of Fr Molloy’s said.

“There are still too many unanswered questions. We want a full investigation into all aspects of Fr Niall’s death, from day one onwards, including the Garda investigation or lack thereof and we will continue to push for that,” he added.

Toscan du Plantier murder investigation still open, says Garda head

THE IRISH TIMES      

 

The investigation into the 1996 murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier is still “live and open”, said Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

She said the force will recruit more data analysts to strengthen the investigative capabilities that were central to the conviction of Graham Dwyer.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi) in Trim, Co Meath, Commissioner O’Sullivan rejected its criticism that she viewed the association as a “nuisance” and had shown disrespect in failing to consult it on policing reform

“Absolutely not,” she said. “I don’t see any of our members as a nuisance and I think I’m on record from the very first day saying that we will engage with all of our people.”

She said a wide-ranging programme of reform was under way and when the strategic transformation office spearheading it was fully operational, communication between it and all Garda members would be a priority.

She said while the Garda was praised following the conviction of Dwyer for murder, she was conscious there remained a family grieving for Elaine O’Hara.

And while a jury had rejected accusations by Ian Baileythat gardaí had conspired against him when investigating Ms Toscan du Plantier’s killing, the case remained unsolved.

“It is a matter of regret to An Garda Síochána that . . . nobody has been brought to justice for that crime. It remains an ongoing, live and open investigation.”

She believed the investigation of Dwyer, a 42-year-old architect, for the murder of Ms O’Hara underlined the professionalism of the Garda’s investigative work.

She said Garda James O’Donoghue had shown great tenacity in investigating the provenance and significance of the items found in Vartry Reservoir and Garda Bríd Wallace and Sgt Alan Browne had “trawled through absolutely tonnes of very horrific footage”.

Civilian analyst Sarah Skedd had done excellent work in analysing the data on the phones linked to Dwyer that proved central to the investigation, she said.

“I think it’s an excellent example of the fusion of what I would call good old-fashioned police work,” she said. “I would like to see far more data analytics being used and we’re currently . . . looking for new analysts.”

These would help in the presentation of often complex data in an “understandable manner” to juries in major trials.

Commissioner O’Sullivan said the McGinn report into a Garda review of the investigation into the killing of Fr Niall Molloy in Clara, Co Offaly, in 1985, vindicated the review team.

“But that doesn’t bring us any comfort,” she said. “If any new evidence comes to light it will be pursued. It’s only fair to say . . . it’s probably not right to hold out hope 30 years later.”

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/toscan-du-plantier-murder-investigation-still-open-says-garda-head-1.2160414

Fitzgerald plans to publish report into Fr Niall Molloy death

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/fitzgerald-plans-to-publish-report-into-fr-niall-molloy-death-1.2024392

 

Fr Molloy died in unexplained circumstances in July 1985 in Clara, Co Offaly

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald    says she has asked the Attorney General for legal advice on redactions that might be necessary before the report into Fr Niall Molloy’s death is put into the public domain. Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald says she has asked the Attorney General for legal advice on redactions that might be necessary before the report into Fr Niall Molloy’s death is put into the public domain.

Wed, Dec 3, 2014, 18:08

An official report into the death in 1985 of Co Roscommon priest, Fr Niall Molloy, is expected to be published shortly.

Fr Molloy’s badly beaten body was found at Kilcoursey House, the Co Offaly home of Richard and Teresa Flynn, on the day after their daughter’s wedding in July 1985. Richard Flynn was subsequently charged with manslaughter but was later acquitted.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said she had sought legal advice on the limited redactions that might be necessary before the report was put into the public domain.

“I do have that report. I would like to publish it as fully as possible. Once I have legal advice from the Attorney General in relation to any redactions that may be necessary. But I certainly would like to put that report into the public arena,” she said.

“I have received it. I have asked the Attorney General for legal advice into some necessary redactions, minimum necessary obviously, and then I will publish it. I would hope to publish it shortly.”

Senior Counsel Dominic McGinn was appointed to carry out an independent examination of facts in the case.

Fr Molloy’s nephew Bill Maher said the family wanted to meet with Ms Fitzgerald as a matter of urgency.

“We have no idea what the findings are. We want to discuss the report with her before they publish any findings,” he said.

Mr Maher said the family had sought a meeting with Ms Fitzgerald and her predecessor Alan Shatter.

Shatter brings High Court challenge to findings of Guerin report

Article from Irish Times :-

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/shatter-brings-high-court-challenge-to-findings-of-guerin-report-1.1882564?utm_source=lunchtime-digest&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=digests

“Former minister for justice Alan Shatter has initiated a High Court challenge aimed at quashing certain findings of the Guerin report concerning Mr Shatter’s handling of claims by Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

In his action, Mr Shatter alleges objective bias, absence of fair procedures and “indecent haste” on the part of senior counsel Sean Guerin in how he compiled his report and reached conclusions critical of the minister.

Mr Shatter resigned following publication of the report last May, in which his handling of Sgt McCabe’s claims was strongly criticised.

Among Mr Shatter’s complaints is Mr Guerin should have interviewed him prior to reaching conclusions on a range of issues. This was very important given that the conclusions had gravely affected his career and reputation, Mr Shatter said.

Had he been interviewed, Mr Shatter said that would have shown he had not deferred to the former Garda Commissioner’s view concerning the allegations by Sgt McCabe.

Today, Patrick O’Reilly SC, for Mr Shatter, secured leave from Ms Justice Marie Baker to bring judicial review proceedings against Mr Guerin for orders quashing various findings in the report.

Among various claims, it is alleged the report was compiled in breach of principles of natural and constitutional justice and fair procedures. He has also alleged objective bias on the part of Mr Guerin.

It is also alleged the terms of reference for the report did not entitle Mr Guerin to reach the conclusions he had. There was failure to consider all the relevant documents, including documents from Mr Shatter and the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission. It is alleged Mr Guerin regarded himself as bound by a fixed eight-week time limit and he should have, but failed, to take the additional time necessary for the report. It is alleged “indecent haste” in concluding the report led to errors, including alleged failure to fully engage with the process.

Mr O’Reilly said his side was also exhibiting legal advices given to the Attorney General which were given to Mr Guerin. These were not brought to Mr Shatter’s attention until after the report was concluded, Mr O’Reilly said.

Mr Shatter had asked for and was subsequently given those advices without any claim of privilege, counsel added.

In those circumstances, his client was arguing privilege was waived. Those advices played a “crucial role” in relation to the report and it was Mr Shatter’s case Mr Guerin misread part of those advices.

The advice was the Garda Commissioner should have dealt with the matter but Mr Guerin misconstrued part of that advice in considering the Minister should have dealt with it, Mr O’Reilly said.

Ms Justice Baker said she was conscious of the sensitivity of that advice and issues may arise in that regard.

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter has initiated a High Court challenge aimed at quashing certain findings of the Guerin report concerning Mr Shatter’s handling of claims by Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

In his action, Mr Shatter alleges objective bias, absence of fair procedures and “indecent haste” on the part of senior counsel Sean Guerin in how he compiled his report and reached conclusions critical of the minister.

Mr Shatter resigned following publication of the report last May, in which his handling of Sgt McCabe’s claims was strongly criticised

Among Mr Shatter’s complaints is Mr Guerin should have interviewed him prior to reaching conclusions on a range of issues. This was very important given that the conclusions had gravely affected his career and reputation, Mr Shatter said.

Had he been interviewed, Mr Shatter said that would have shown he had not deferred to the former Garda Commissioner’s view concerning the allegations by Sgt McCabe.

Today, Patrick O’Reilly SC, for Mr Shatter, secured leave from Ms Justice Marie Baker to bring judicial review proceedings against Mr Guerin for orders quashing various findings in the report.

Among various claims, it is alleged the report was compiled in breach of principles of natural and constitutional justice and fair procedures. He has also alleged objective bias on the part of Mr Guerin.

It is also alleged the terms of reference for the report did not entitle Mr Guerin to reach the conclusions he had. There was failure to consider all the relevant documents, including documents from Mr Shatter and the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission. It is alleged Mr Guerin regarded himself as bound by a fixed eight-week time limit and he should have, but failed, to take the additional time necessary for the report. It is alleged “indecent haste” in concluding the report led to errors, including alleged failure to fully engage with the process.

Mr O’Reilly said his side was also exhibiting legal advices given to the Attorney General which were given to Mr Guerin. These were not brought to Mr Shatter’s attention until after the report was concluded, Mr O’Reilly said.

Mr Shatter had asked for and was subsequently given those advices without any claim of privilege, counsel added.

In those circumstances, his client was arguing privilege was waived. Those advices played a “crucial role” in relation to the report and it was Mr Shatter’s case Mr Guerin misread part of those advices.

The advice was the Garda Commissioner should have dealt with the matter but Mr Guerin misconstrued part of that advice in considering the Minister should have dealt with it, Mr O’Reilly said.

Ms Justice Baker said she was conscious of the sensitivity of that advice and issues may arise in that regard.”

When Mr Shatter appointed Mr Dominic McGinn SC to look at Niall’s case our complain was that Mr McGinn was not asked to look at all relevant documents i.e. the first Garda investigation.

Strange he is now making the very same complaints we have made against him and now find ourselves trying to get Frances Fitzgerald to listen to us.

Irish Times 8 / March / 2013

Rónán Mullen (Ind) said events following the death of Fr Niall Molloy in Clara, Co Offaly, 28 years ago amounted to the kind of miscarriage of justice about which we had spent so much time condemning when they had happened in other jurisdictions.

The jailing of innocent people was akin to the absence of a proper investigation and trial in relation to an untimely death, he said. “It seems to me that there is more than a prima facie case that that is the case here.”

The Irish Times – Friday, March 8, 2013