12 Aug 2022

Court hears grandfather jailed in Portlaoise for rape may not have been fit to be tried


Visit to prisioner at The Midlands Prison in Portlaoise at the centre of appeal.

An elderly man who is serving a prison sentence in Portlaoise for raping his granddaughter is to be assessed to determine whether he was fit to be tried at the time of his trial more than a year ago. 

Christopher Redmond, (75), of Rathvilly Drive, Finglas, Dublin 11, had pleaded not guilty to four counts of rape and five counts of sexually assaulting his granddaughter at the Tolka Valley pitch and putt club, where Redmond worked, in Finglas on dates between January 2002 and May 2004. 

He was found guilty by a Central Criminal Court jury following a trial in early 2018 and sentenced to five years imprisonment by Ms Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh on April 27, 2018. 

Prior to Redmond’s sentence hearing, he was assessed by a consultant forensic psychiatrist from the Central Mental Hospital, who found him to be suffering from a significant cognitive impairment. It was likely to have been present for a number of years, that report stated. 

However, the question of whether Redmond was fit to be tried, specifically under Section 4 of the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006, was not addressed in the report as he had already been convicted and “that ship had sailed at that point”. 

The report concluded that Redmond’s cognitive decline could leave him vulnerable to other prisoners.

An earlier report, prepared prior to his trial, found him to have a mild cognitive impairment but there was nothing to suggest he was unfit to be tried. 

The Court of Appeal heard that Redmond did not initially respond when he was asked to plead to the first count on the indictment. He had to be prompted and then pleaded not guilty. 

His barrister, Andrew Sexton SC, submitted that the safety of Redmond’s conviction had been placed in doubt by the report prepared so soon after his conviction.

In a motion to adduce the report as new evidence, Mr Sexton said the report would have addressed the question of fitness to be tried if it had been sought prior to or during the trial. 

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham said the report produced in the context of Redmond’s sentence hearing “very understandably” didn’t address the question of fitness to plead but the court required more information specifically addressed to the question of fitness to plead. 

He said opinions should be sought from consultant forensic psychiatrists. Obviously, there was a difficulty in asking them in 2019 to express a view on matters related to early 2018, the judge added. 

The case was put back for mention on June 21 next. 

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Paddy McGrath SC, said it was the State’s intention to have Redmond assessed by an expert from the Central Mental Hospital. 

Mr Sexton said Redmond was currently in the Midlands Prison in a cell with another individual. 

His granddaughter now aged 24, who had waived her right to anonymity so that Redmond could be named, was aged between seven and nine at the time of the abuse.

Sentencing Redmond to five years imprisonment in April 2018, Ms Justice Ní Raifeartaigh mitigated the headline sentence on account of his progressive cognitive impairments.

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