IrelandClick.com **from 19 Sept.

John O’Hagan refused bail for sixth time

North Belfast man, John O’Hagan, was refused bail yesterday for the sixth time in 18 months.
Justice Girvan heard Mr O’Hagan’s High Court bail application, before declaring that he didn’t have the discretion to issue a judgement in the case.
The judge told the court he would have granted bail if he believed he had the discretion.
After the hearing John O’Hagan’s solicitor, Phillip Breen, expressed dismay at the judgement.
“My client has been on remand for 18 months. Both John and I are very concerned at the treatment of his case and we are now examining a number of legal options.
“Justice Girvan indicated in July that he was concerned about the inordinate delay in processing John’s case and he further indicated that if John’s application for bail appeared before him again, then he would be sympathetic to the application.
“The reason for this was the failure of the court to provide an early date for trial,” said Mr Breen.
New Lodge man John O’Hagan was placed on remand at Maghaberry prison in March 2002, after he was arrested and charged with possession of documents that could be useful to terrorists.
Last Friday (September 12) Mr O’Hagan was informed that his trial is scheduled to start on December 1 – exactly 20 months after his arrest.
If John O’Hagan’s trial does start on that date he will have served 20 months in continuous custody – effectively a three and a half year sentence – without having been convicted of any offence.
Solicitor Phillip Breen yesterday hit out at the delays in relation to the case.
“The only evidence to substantiate the charges against John O’Hagan, which has been furnished to the defence thus far, has been depositions.“Despite assiduously and actively seeking disclosure from the Crown in relation to alleged fingerprint evidence, we have been consistently presented with conflicting stories and undue delays.
“And as of today the Crown has indicated that other applications we have made for disclosure of relevant information may be faced with ex-party applications for non-disclosure.
“In layman’s terms this means that the Crown will be seeking to ban the release of certain material to the defence team by applying in private to a judge,” said Mr Breen.
A member of John O’Hagan’s family yesterday voiced outrage at the treatment of John’s case.
“We have watched John go through six different bail refusals in 18 months.
“We feel like he has been kicked in teeth by the criminal and judicial system.”

Journalist: Staff Reporter

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