Two Laois brothers imprisoned for rape have had their convictions overturned after a key State witness claimed he was put under pressure by gardaí to say he saw the two men in the vicinity of the alleged rape.
42-year-old Eamonn Flanagan, from Dunamaise, Stradbally, and 35-year-old Seamus Flanagan, Ashley Gardens, Portlaoise, were sentenced to three years in jail in October 2011, after they were convicted of raping a woman in a room at the Red Cow Hotel, Dublin, on March 3, 2008. Seamus Flanagan pleaded not guilty to the anal and vaginal rape of the woman, while Eamonn Flanagan pleaded not guilty to vaginal rape.
After the brothers were convicted, a key prosecution witness, Daniel Lynch, claimed he had been pressurised by gardaí into saying that he had seen the two brothers at the door of the hotel where the alleged rape occurred.
Mr Lynch, a friend of the two Laois men, had consensual sex with the woman before the alleged rape took place. No DNA from the Flanagan brothers was found on the woman, the court heard.
In his first statement, made in March 2008, Mr Lynch told detectives that on the night of the alleged offence he left the room and just down from the door he met the two accused men and talked to them. On April 30, 2008 he gave a second statement to gardaí in the back of a garda car. In this statement Mr Lynch said that as he left through the open door of the hotel room, the two accused men were coming through it.
In an affidavit Mr Lynch claimed that in the rear of the vehicle he was placed under “considerable emotional and psychological pressure” to alter his first statement.
The court heard that the gardaí “categorically deny” putting Mr Lynch under pressure.
The Court of Criminal Appeal has now quashed the convictions, with Mr Justice John MacMenamin saying that the appeal court had taken the view that the convictions were unsafe. He said the court wished to emphasise that the evidence heard at the appeal would have “rendered it extremely difficult” for any prosecution in a retrial, and the court therefore believed the DPP’s decision was an “entirely appropriate” one.