The Circuit Court judge who will sentence the Mullingar rioters in less than two weeks has announced special measures to deal with the massive number of people before the court.
Judge Anthony Kennedy made the announcement on Tuesday at Tullamore Circuit Court, saying that he would view two videos of footage taken at the infamous riot at the special sentencing hearing on February 24.
Sixty-one out of 66 possible defendants have pleaded guilty to violent disorder at Dalton Park in July of 2008 and face up to 10 years imprisonment.
Images of the riot were widely broadcast at the time and still images appeared in many newspapers, showing around 200 people participating in the feud between members of the McDonagh, Dinnegan, and Nevin families.
Judge Kennedy pointed out the need to issue “unusual” directions to the defence and prosecution to manage what is understood to be the biggest single number of people ever to come before the Circuit Court arising out of one event.
The judge ordered that all solicitors and barristers be ready to deal with their cases when they are called. He said he would not allow any cases to be postponed to later in the day and any delay granted in exceptional circumstances would result in the guilty person being remanded in custody until he had time to deal with them later.
That wait could be as long as a week or month, he said and pointed out that legal representatives had plenty of time to consult with their clients before they appear before him later this month.
Bench warrants will be issued for those who do not turn up, he added.
He also said he did not want to hear “quibbles over trivial points” during the sentencing hearing, and prosecution and defence are only to involve him if the contentious issue is “serious”.
By 4pm today, Friday February 12, the prosecution, led by Superintendent John Gantly of Mullingar Garda Station must forward a file for each guilty person to their defence solicitor outlining exactly what their role was in the riot, any previous convictions they have as well as any victim impact statements.
The defence will then have to send the prosecution the information they will use to offer mitigation for their clients, as well as testimonials in favour of the defendants. These must be in writing and be with the court before 4pm on February 19.
The judge is to receive a copy of all documents, with each file stapled together for ease of reading.
If any of the five individuals who have not pleaded guilty decide to do so at the special sitting in Tullamore, they must be ready for sentencing that day.