Thursday, October 14, 2021

Peter Doyle

An ‘evil and dangerous’ taxi driver who was jailed for sexually abusing his adopted daughter over a 10-year period has lost his appeal against his conviction.

John Walker had pleaded not guilty to indecently and sexually assaulting his daughter Jennifer Kelly, who had waived her right to anonymity during legal proceedings, at his home address and their previous home address at Kilmashogue Grove, Greenpark, Dublin 12, between June 1990 and April 2000.

But in December 2019, a jury returned a unanimous verdict and found Walker, of The Cova, Whitehall Road, Perrystown, Dublin 12, guilty of 40 counts of indecently and sexually assaulting Ms Kelly over a 10-year period between 1990 and 2000, when she was aged between eight and 18 years-old.

Walker – described by Ms Kelly as an “evil and dangerous man” – later launched an appeal against his conviction, claiming that “missing” evidence had resulted in an unfair trial.

At a Court of Appeal hearing in June, Walker’s counsel Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC told Court President Mr Justice George Birmingham, sitting with Mr Justice John Edwards and Mr Justice Seamus Woulfe, his client’s ability to pursue a line of defence could have been reasonably damaged by the “missing evidence” from two witnesses.

A fair trial

The defence’s grounds for appeal stated that trial judge Ms Justice Patricia Ryan, in refusing to accede to an application by defence counsel for a directed acquittal, had failed to ensure a fair trial.

The defence also claimed that Ms Justice Ryan had also failed to give an adequate delay warning to the jury, failed to properly re-charge the jury on delay following being requisitioned to do so, and erred in refusing to give a corroboration warning to the jury.

A corroboration warning can be given by a judge to a jury to highlight the dangers of convicting a defendant on the basis of uncorroborated evidence.

A delay warning is a specific warning about the gap in time between the offending and the bringing of a prosecution. But the appeal was dismissed on all grounds in a judgment issued on Thursday by Mr Justice John Edwards.

“In circumstances where we have not seen fit to uphold any of the complaints made by the appellant in his grounds of appeal, we are satisfied that his trial was satisfactory and that the verdict is safe,” the judgment stated.

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