Record number returned for trial

Complimenting Mullingar’s State Solicitor Peter Jones on the manner in which he prepared the books of evidence, Judge John Neilan said he hoped the efforts would be recorded.

He believed it was the first time for the State to seek in one day to return for trial such a number of accused.

Mr Jones thanked the Gardaí and the Courts Service for their assistance and thanked Judge Neilan for his courtesy.

The scale of the operation was huge. 67 books of evidence, each with 1,300 pages divided into three volumes were served on defendants before the court proceedings began.

They filled three tables in Courtroom Two and had to be transported in a van to the courthouse.

In total 88,000 pages of evidence were put before the court.

Service of the books had been delayed because of the scale of the enterprise and a later date sought by the State to finish its preparations.

The majority of the defendants first appeared before the District Court on February 9 following a dawn swoop on residences across Mullingar and further afield.

On that day, a Garda helicopter whirred overhead while Garda dog handlers observed from outside the court. Members of the public order unit were on standby and dozens of gardaí provided a very visible presence in the court.

On Monday the mood was considerably less tense, with far fewer gardaí in attendance.



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