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Man convicted of Kevin Lunney attack challenges conviction and 30-year prison sentence

Mar 22, 2022 12:03 By News Northern Sound
Man convicted of Kevin Lunney attack challenges conviction and 30-year prison sentence Man convicted of Kevin Lunney attack challenges conviction and 30-year prison sentence
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In his action, 41 year-old Alan Harte challenges the constitutionality of Section 40 of the 1939 Offences Against the State Act.

Alan Harte, who was convicted last year of causing serious harm on and falsely imprisoning businessman Kevin Lunney, has launched a High Court challenge to set aside both his conviction and prison sentence.

Last year, 41-year-old Harte was sentenced to 30 years in prison by the Special Criminal Court for committing the attack on the Quinn Industrial Holdings director at a yard in Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan in September 2019.

In his action, Alan Harte challenges the constitutionality of Section 40 of the 1939 Offences Against the State Act.

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It directs that that a person who comes before the three-judge court cannot be told if they have been convicted by a majority decision or a unanimous decision.

The 1939 Act provides for the establishment of the non-jury Special Criminal Court.

The action, which first came before the court in February, returned before Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Monday.

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The judge had previously adjourned the matter to allow Harte's legal team to produce additional submissions in support of his claim.

While the court was not prepared to grant leave, the judge directed that the application for leave to bring the challenge be made in the presence of lawyers for the DPP, the State and the SCC.

Due to section 40 of the Act, Harte claims he does not know if all three judges of that court found him guilty, or if he was convicted on a majority decision.

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This, it is claimed, contrasts with a jury trial, where since 1984 at least ten jurors must decide if an accused is guilty or not guilty of an offence they have been tried for.

A simple 2-1 majority decision of the SCC, it is submitted, is a major divergence from what is required from a jury hearing a criminal trial.

In his judicial review proceedings against Special Criminal Court, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ireland and the Attorney General, Harte challenges the constitutionality of Section 40 of the Act.

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Section 40, Harte's lawyers claim, annuls the constitutional guarantees of equality, and amounts to a form of unacceptable discrimination.

The fact it prevents the announcement of whether the SCC's verdict is unanimous, or a majority decision, breaches the constitutional requirement that justice be administered in public, it is also claimed.

He further seeks a declaration from the court that his trial before the SCC was unfair, not in accordance with the law and in breach of his constitutional rights.

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The leave application was adjourned to a date in May.

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