Thursday, May 25, 2023

Alison O'Riordan & Paul Neilan

A 36-year-old man accused of murdering an early morning gym-goer and the attempted murder of well-known coach Pete Taylor at Bray Boxing Club will go on trial at the Central Criminal Court in October this year, ending his fresh bid to be released on bail having been in custody for almost five years.

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham said on Thursday that the question of Gerard Cervi’s bail had been one of the “most difficult appeals” the court has had to consider, with the court having considered granting bail on “possibly the strictest conditions ever imposed by an Irish court upon a person”.

Mr Cervi is charged with the murder of Bobby Messett (50) and of the attempted murder of Mr Taylor, who was also shot when a gunman entered Bray Boxing Club in Bray Harbour, Co Wicklow on June 5th, 2018. Mr Cervi, who is originally from the East Wall area in Dublin 3, is further accused of the attempted murder of Ian Britton on the same date and location.

His first trial at the Central Criminal Court, which had already been delayed due to Covid restrictions, collapsed after 10 weeks in September 2021 when Mr Justice Michael White told nine remaining jurors that one of their number had fallen ill and that it was “impossible to continue”.

At an earlier hearing before the Central Criminal Court on Thursday, Mr Justice Paul McDermott fixed a date of October 2nd for the trial. The case is expected to take six weeks.

Mr Paul Murray SC, prosecuting, told Mr Justice McDermott that he wanted to apply for a trial date and that Mr Cervi has been in custody since September 2018.

Mr Murray said the bail matter was pending before the Court of Appeal and that the Central Criminal Court might be of the view that to list the case for trial next month was unrealistic given the history of the case.

Mr Justice McDermott said that this would be “completely unrealistic” and that this was the first time he had heard of “developments” in the case in a long time.

Mr Murray asked for the judge to remand the accused man in custody subject to the variation that may be granted by the Court of Appeal today.

Mr Justice McDermott remanded Mr Cervi in custody until October 2, when his trial is expected to begin.

Last week, the Court of Appeal found that Mr Cervi might be granted bail “on the most stringent conditions” having spent a “highly unusual amount of time” in custody without a date for his trial.

Mr Justice Birmingham said that Mr Cervi’s case was not a “straightforward” one and that he had spent a considerable time in custody with no imminent trial date.

He said that if there was a clear timeline regarding the trial, bail would have been refused, but because there was not the bail consideration had been “pushed over the line”.

He asked both parties to return to court to see if the suggestions were “broadly appropriate” or if there had been an “insurmountable” obstacle to the proposals.

At a subsequent hearing at the Court of Appeal this afternoon, Mr Justice Birmingham said he would deny bail to Mr Cervi now that a trial date had been fixed.

The judge said that the question of Mr Cervi’s bail had been one of the “most difficult appeals” the court has had to consider. Mr Justice Birmingham said that “what was tipping us over the line and in favour of bail was that there was no timetable for trial”.

However, Mr Justice Birmingham said that now a trial date had been fixed, bail was to be denied.

The judge said that the court had been previously minded to grant bail on the “most stringent conditions, possibly the strictest conditions ever imposed by an Irish court upon a person”.

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