A solicitor accused of deceiving a client out of €7,500 has been acquitted by direction of the trial judge at Limerick Circuit Court.
Denis McMahon, 58, a former partner in the Limerick firm McMahon O’Brien Downes, had denied a charge of deception in that he dishonestly induced a former client to hand over a bank draft with the intention of making a gain for himself.
The offence was alleged to have taken place at his offices in Henry Street in Limerick on 27 November, 2002.
After a two-day trial, and following an application by Defence Counsel Brendan Grehan, Judge Pauline Codd directed the jury to find Mr McMahon not guilty.
The case arose from a settlement that Margaret Duggan, 59, received in 2002 for a work-related injury.
Mr McMahon was her solicitor in the case, and she subsequently handed him over a bank draft for €7,500, which she presumed at the time was to cover his costs.
She questioned the details of her settlement three years later when she heard about certain matters concerning Mr McMahon’s firm on Joe Duffy's Liveline radio show.
Judge Codd said the evidence potentially given by the late Seamus McKenna SC was crucial evidence, but this evidence was not sought by gardaí.
He died in 2010, two years after Ms Duggan first complained to gardaí.
The trial heard that Mr McKenna, who had a formidable reputation for working on behalf of his clients, was the barrister who negotiated the settlement with Mr McMahon on Ms Duggan’s behalf.
She had said she never dealt with Mr McKenna.
The defence had argued that Mr McKenna’s evidence was crucial, and the absence of that evidence was reason to stop the trial.
Judge Codd said she was satisfied that a grave prejudice has been suffered by Mr McMahon in the defence of his case in the circumstances, and prohibited the trial from proceeding any further.
She directed the jury to find Mr McMahon not guilty, and this verdict was recorded on the issue paper.