Irish Daily Mirror

It’s murder in the courts..

Judges seeing rise in number of serious criminal cases


THE number of trials for murder and serious sexual offences held in Irish courts increased by 57% last year, figures show.

The Central Criminal Court held trials in relation to 25 murder and attempted murder cases, and 423 trials in relation to rape and attempted rape charges.

According to the 2021 annual report of the Courts Service this is an increase from 20 murder and attempted murder cases and 265 trials in relation to rape and attempted rape charges in 2020.

It is a 57% increase in the numbers of murder and serious sexual offence trials held.

The number of people jailed for more than 10 years for rape and attempted rape offences was 110 last year, while 98 defendants were sentenced to five to 10 years in prison, 41 were jailed for two to five years while two people were handed sentences of up to two years.

The report also shows that some of the courts are dealing with more serious criminal cases than previous years.

The Special Criminal Court received cases involving 145 offences and 23 defendants last year, up from 116 offences and 31 defendants in 2020, and 70 offences involving 24 defendants in 2019.

The Circuit Criminal Courts received 18,676 new serious cases last year, up from 18,275 in 2020, and 16,487 in 2019.

This is up from 13,974 such cases in 2016 – an increase in serious crime of 33% over six years.

Drugs cases at District Court level were down 9% at 35,220, from 38,635 cases in 2020.

But there has been an increase in drugs cases over the past six years of 51%, up from 23,216 in 2016.

At Circuit Court levels new personal injury actions were down by 12%, whereas property possession cases were up 75% from 272 to 477.

Likewise, there was a reduction of a quarter in new defamation cases at Circuit level.

The number of new divorce applicatio­ns jumped by 11% in the Circuit Court last year.

There was also a serious rise in the number of child abduction cases, which jumped by 52%, from 21 to 32 cases last year.

The number of new supervisio­n and care orders sought increased to 14,194, up from 13,203, an increase of 7.5%.

The number of orders made increased to 14,038, up from 9,353 in 2021, an increase of 50%.

The report also shows the effect of the economic changes brought about by Covid in the area of licensing.

Applicatio­ns were down 18% across the District and Circuit Courts, following on from a 70% decrease in 2020.

The Courts Service has a budget of €154million, with 82.5% from

the Exchequer and 17.5% raised through fees.

The net cost to the state of running the courts across the country is €127million. The Courts Service collected €8million in fines last year, and administer­ed €1.7million in poor box payments in 2020.

Chief Justice Donal O’donnell said many matters have been dealt with through the expanded use of remote hearings and video links between courts and prisons, and the use of non-courts service venues, such as Croke Park for trial hearings.

He added: “Adaptation and innovation are two words which might best describe our efforts in 2021, as we dealt with the ongoing effects of a worldwide pandemic, and the impact it had on people’s right of access to justice, and on the administra­tion of justice more generally.

“Each year brings with it inevitable

changes to certain areas and levels of work, and the Courts Service has to be conscious to try to channel resources and court space appropriat­ely.”

Angela Denning, the chief executive of the Courts Service, said the courts have been more flexible in using the modernisat­ion programme to facilitate court business.

She said the number of video links between prisons and courts increased by almost 60% last year to 20,634, from 13,000 in 2021, and 443% on the 3,798 in 2019.

She said that expanding the video technology to 104 courtrooms across the estate last year facilitate­d 38,176 video calls in total.

 ?? ?? SADISTIC KILLER Daniel Murtagh was jailed last year for murdering Nadine Lott
SADISTIC KILLER Daniel Murtagh was jailed last year for murdering Nadine Lott
 ?? ?? REPORT LAUNCH Donal O’donnell, Helen Mcentee and Angela Denning
REPORT LAUNCH Donal O’donnell, Helen Mcentee and Angela Denning

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