Another Monday List…another murder. Every Monday it’s the same. We all gather in Court 1 along with a hundred or so members of the public who are there, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, to fulfil their jury duty.
Each Monday the trials that are due to start are listed in the Legal Diary to have juries sworn. There are usually three or four cases set to start, so a jury panel is needed for each one. The List also deals with legal business so there will be the barristers and solicitors needed for both sides of each case listed. Not to mention the court reporters. We turn up every Monday, our notebooks clutched in our hot little hands, to see what we will be doing for the rest of the week.
Court 1 is an old court, like each of the four courtrooms that radiate out from the Round Hall. It wasn’t built for the kinds of numbers that pack into it at the start of every week. So it’s standing room only by 10.30, potential jurors having ensconced themselves on every available seat – there’s usually not even anywhere for the accused to sit.
It’s packed and baking hot – no matter what the whether or the time of year. If you’re unlucky enough to be stuck at the back of the crowd it’s a stifling and confusing experience as unseen barristers mumble unintelligibly at the front of the court room, under the judges bench. Even if you’re used to it it’s still frustrating as the press of bodies soaks up any sound more than a foot away.
It got too much for one old guy this morning. As the first team of barristers got to their feet and started mumbling a complicated legal request he piped up from the very back of the courtroom.
“Speak up, we can’t hear you!”
There was a stunned silence for a second and more than a few sympathetic grins. Mr Justice Paul Carney, who’s generally the ring master in Court 1, raised an eyebrow but told the offending barrister that since it was open court he had better speak up or face the wrath of the public.
There two murders listed this week and they couldn’t be more different. Stephen Egan is from Coolock and accused of killing a fellow prisoner in Mountjoy Prison. Then there’s Finn Colclough, the 18-year-old from leafy Waterloo Road in that most illustrious postcode, Dublin 4. He’s accused of stabbing another teenager to death. We learnt today that his mother is Dublin’s answer to Delia Smith.
Stephen Egan is pleading not guilty due to diminished responsibility, a plea that was introduced in 2006. It’s along the lines of guilty but insane and generally doesn’t take long, although the press will be in full attendance.
Then there’s young Finn. A boy from one of the most affluent suburbs of Dublin will almost certainly guarantee the column inches for as long as his trial lasts, which is expected to be the rest of this week and most of next.
I won’t comment any further until the jury have had a chance to hear what they will have to decide. But the press do like middle class trials…
I’m covering the teenager. Then there’s the tax to file and the book to finally finish…I’m looking forward to the second week of November! Not long now. Young Master Colclough should bring me up to the Sharon Collins and Essam Eid sentence on November 3rd and an end…the final furlong….