Businessman Jim Mansfield Jnr, who is facing false imprisonment charges, has been denied permission to vary his bail to allow him travel to Spain for his mother's 75th birthday party.
Mr Justice Paul Coffey at the Special Criminal Court said there was "nothing to stop" the woman's party from taking place in this jurisdiction. The judge said "to ask the court to work around" circumstances in which the party arrangements were made after Mr Mansfield's passport had already been surrendered as part of his bail terms is "highly unsatisfactory".
Mr Mansfield Jnr (52), of Tasaggart House, Garters Lane, Saggart, Co Dublin, is to stand trial at the non-jury court in April on charges relating to false imprisonment and the perversion of justice. He is charged with conspiring with one or more persons to falsely imprison Martin Byrne on a date unknown between January 1, 2015 and June 30, 2015, both dates inclusive.
He is also charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice by directing Patrick Byrne to destroy recorded CCTV footage, with the intention of perverting the course of public justice in relation to the false imprisonment of Martin Byrne at Finnstown House Hotel, Newcastle Road, Lucan, Co Dublin between June 9, 2015 and June 12, 2015.
Last year he was admitted to bail on an independent surety of €10,000 and subject to a number of conditions including the surrender of his passport. However, this morning [WEDNESDAY], Mr Mansfield applied for a bail variation, specifically seeking permission to travel to Malaga in Spain tomorrow [THURSDAY] to celebrate his mother's 75th birthday before returning on Monday next.
Tony McGillicuddy BL, for Mr Mansfield Jnr, told Mr Justice Paul Coffey, presiding, sitting with Judge Martin Nolan and Judge James Faughnan, that Mr Mansfield Jnr lives with his mother and is one of two principle people who take care of her. He said the flights and hotel for the celebration have been booked and that the court and State had been provided with the relevant documents to outline these details.
"He would very much like to attend that [celebration] given that she lives with him on an ongoing basis," the barrister said.
Mr McGillicuddy also said that he understands that the request for permission to go to Spain is "close" to Mr Mansfield Jnr's trial date of April 20 next, however he said Mr Mansfield Jnr's independent surety, who was present in court, is happy to stand over the surety for anytime the court may grant a relaxation of the businessman's bail terms.
Shane Costelloe SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said there was one "remarkable aspect" of Mr Mansfield Jnr's submission for permission to leave the State. He said that the court will see from documentation provided that the flights and hotel were booked "for a date in March" and that, as recently as Thursday last week, the hotel and flights were changed. Mr Costelloe referred to the chain of events as a "peculiarity".
In respect of this, Mr McGillicuddy told the court that "an error was made in the initial booking and that's been corrected". He added: "I don't think it's of great import."
Mr Costelloe told the court that there is an allegation that Mr Mansfield Jnr "conspired with" Dessie O'Hare and Declan Duffy who, over the past three years, have either pleaded guilty or changed their plea to guilty to falsely imprisoning Martin Byrne. He said their cases [O'Hare and Duffy] are "done and dusted".
Sgt Eamon O'Neill, from Tallaght Garda Station, told Mr Costelloe that gardai became aware of Mr Mansfield's move to apply for permission to go to Malaga yesterday. Asked what the Garda attitude is to Mr Mansfield Jnr's application, Sgt O'Neill told Mr Costelloe: "We'd be concerned due to the seriousness of the offences Mr Mansfield is facing. We're also concerned about the close proximity to the trial date."
Sgt O'Neill added that Mr Mansfield agreed to his bail conditions last year and An Garda Síochána "just don't know if he has any intentions to travel further from Spain if he gets that far".
In response to a question from Mr McGillicuddy, Sgt O'Neill said there have been no bench warrants in respect of Mr Mansfield Jnr in the past.
Mr McGillicuddy told the court that Mr Mansfield has the presumption of innocence, that he has honoured his bail conditions to date and repeated that Mr Mansfield's independent surety is satisfied to stand over that "substantial surety".
After rising for several moments to consider the submissions, Mr Justice Coffey said it is "not in dispute" that Mr Mansfield Jnr's trial is "imminent". Another established fact, he said, is that a "key feature of his bail bond is that he has to surrender his passport".
He said it follows that the birthday celebration was arranged for outside the jurisdiction at a time Mr Mansfield is not allowed to leave the jurisdiction and he said there was "nothing to stop" the celebration from being held in this jurisdiction.
"The court is not disposed to proceed with the bail application," the judge said.
In April of last year, former INLA man Dessie O’Hare was sentenced to ten years in prison with three years suspended for false imprisonment and assault. O’Hare (63), of Slate Rock Road, Newtownhamilton, Co Armagh, pleaded guilty to falsely imprisoning Martin Byrne at Rathcooleand Saggart on June 9th, 2015. He also pleaded guilty to assaulting John Roche, causing him harm, at The Towers, Garter Lane, Saggart, Co Dublin on the same date.
In January 2018, former Republican paramilitary Declan “Whacker” Duffy (46), originally from Armagh but with an address at Hannover Street West in Dublin, was jailed for six years after he pleaded guilty to falsely imprisoning Martin Byrne in Co Dublin on June 9, 2015. He also pleaded guilty to assaulting John Roche, causing him harm, at The Towers, Garter Lane, Saggart, County Dublin on June 9, 2015.