Judgment Title: D.P.P.-v- Daniel Cleary
Composition of Court: Mc Guinness J., Hanna J., Mac Menamin J.
Judgment by: Mc Guinness J.
Status of Judgment: Approved
Outcome: Conviction quashed on Section 15A
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COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEAL
THE PEOPLE (AT THE SUIT OF THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS)
Judgment of the Court delivered by McGuinness J. on the 3rd day of May 2005
The applicant was charged on two counts, the first possession of a controlled drug, and the second possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply.
He was tried on indictment in the Circuit Criminal Court (Midlands Circuit) before His Honour Judge Kennedy and a jury on the 19th and 20th November 2003. He was convicted by the jury on both counts and was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment on the first count and three years imprisonment on the second count, the sentences to run concurrently. Leave to appeal the convictions and sentence was refused. The applicant has now applied to this court for leave to appeal. Grounds of appeal were filed on 3rd December 2003.
On 16th December 2003 the applicant applied to a division of this court (Hardiman J., O’Sullivan J., Herbert J.) for bail pending the hearing of his application for leave to appeal. Bail was granted on the same conditions as the applicant’s pre-trial bail.
On that date the court was informed that one of the grounds of appeal was a discrete point of law as required by the dicta in Director of Public Prosecutions v Corbally.
The offences of which the applicant was convicted were alleged to have occurred on the 15th February 2003. Following a search by two members of An Garda Siochana of an area at the back of a derelict shop at Durrow, Co. Offaly, a black holdall was found concealed under some bushes. Inside the bag there was a green first-aid box that contained a number of sachets of white powder which appeared to be illegal drugs. The holdall was then replaced by the Gardai in the same position where it had been found. Garda Patrick Cleary then concealed himself behind a tree while the other Garda left the scene. Garda Cleary gave evidence that some time later a motor cycle arrived. About ten minutes after that a man walked into the area and pulled out the bag from the undergrowth. The Garda then came out running, took the bag and grabbed the man. He stated that this man was the applicant. The applicant ran off but returned some time later. He was arrested pursuant to section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984 and was brought to the Garda Station in Tullamore where he was interviewed. His interview was electronically recorded. To all questions put to him the applicant answered “no comment”. The applicant was charged with the offences set out below. Evidence was given that a fingerprint belonging to the applicant was found on the inside of the lid of the first-aid box.
Since the nature of the charges brought against the applicant is relevant to the grounds of appeal, it is convenient to set out here the actual wording of the two counts:
Count No. 1 Statement of Offence.
Possession of a Controlled Drug contrary to section 3 and section 27 (as amended by section 6 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1984) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977.
Particulars of Offence
Daniel Cleary on the 15th February 2003 at Durrow, Tullamore, in the County of Offaly had unlawfully in his possession a controlled drug, to wit, cocaine.
Count No. 2 Statement of Offence
Possession of Controlled Drugs for the purpose of selling or otherwise supplying same contrary to section 15 and section 27 (as amended by section 6 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1984) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 and contrary to Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1988 and 1993, as made under section 5 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977.
Particulars of Offence
Daniel Cleary on the 15th February 2003 at Durrow, Tullamore, in the County of Offaly had in his possession a controlled drug, to wit, cocaine for the purpose of selling or otherwise supplying it to another.
There were a number of unusual features of the trial.
The case against the applicant centred firstly on proving that he possessed the drugs which had been found, and secondly on proving that he had an intention to sell or supply the drugs. The Garda evidence was that the drugs had been found in a first-aid box which was contained in a holdall. For some unascertained reason neither the first-aid box nor the holdall were included in the list of exhibits contained in the Book of Evidence. The only exhibits listed were the certificate of analysis of part of the drugs found, the custody record of the period spent in custody by the applicant following his arrest, and photographic enlargements of a fingerprint said to have been found in the first-aid box.
During the course of Garda Cleary’s evidence the prosecution endeavoured to introduce the holdall and first-aid box into evidence by handing them to the witness. An objection was correctly raised by the defence that these items were not exhibits as listed in the Book of Evidence. In the absence of the jury, counsel for the prosecution admitted that this was “an oversight” and conceded that the items could not be produced in evidence. The learned trial judge expressed astonishment at this situation and indicated that he would have been open to an application by the prosecution for leave to lead this evidence. Counsel for the prosecution then applied for such leave. Counsel for the defence strenuously objected to such leave being given and was critical of the trial judge’s intervention which, he submitted, was in aid of the prosecution. In a subsequent ruling the learned trial judge appears to have left the matter open for a further application by the prosecution, but in the event the trial proceeded without either the box or the holdall being produced in evidence.
Towards the end of the prosecution case some confusion also arose as to whether one fingerprint or two fingerprints had been found inside the lid of the first-aid box. This confusion was never resolved.
On the second day of the trial, having presented the evidence against the applicant to the jury, counsel for the prosecution closed the prosecution case. At Book B page 18 she stated:
“Geraldine O’Neill is the author of the certificate of analysis that you have seen. That, My Lord, is the end of the prosecution case. Sorry, My Lord, if Your Lordship would bear with me (pause). That is the end of the prosecution case.”
Following the close of the prosecution case, in the absence of the jury, counsel for the applicant sought a direction on the grounds that the prosecution had failed to prove the Regulations made under the Misuse of Drugs Act which formed part of the particulars of the offence alleged against the applicant. He also raised a number of additional legal points. Counsel for the prosecution replied to a number of these points. With regard to the point on the Regulations she stated:-
“Insofar as the Regulations are concerned, My Lord, the prosecution has closed its case without proving the Regulations. I simply have to concede to that at this point in time, My Lord.”
The learned trial judge asked counsel what flowed from the concession that the Regulations had not been proved and there was a discussion between the learned trial judge and counsel for the prosecution. Counsel for the prosecution submitted that it was not fatal to the prosecution to have failed to prove the Regulations as there was already sufficient evidence to go before the jury. She also applied to the trial judge to re-open the case for the prosecution. However no specific legal submission was made in relation to the failure to prove the Regulations.
Counsel for the applicant opposed the prosecution application to re-open the case.
The learned trial judge gave a ruling on this point and on a number of other points raised by counsel for the defence (at Book B page 26-28). As far as the matter of the Regulations was concerned the learned judge stated:
Having dealt with a number of other points raised by counsel for the defence the learned judge stated:
He then refused the application for a direction. The applicant did not go into evidence and he was subsequently convicted by the jury on both counts.
THE NOTICE OF APPEAL
As stated earlier, the applicant’s notice of appeal was filed on 3rd December 2003. A number of grounds of appeal are set out, but at the hearing before this court senior counsel for the applicant, Mr Gageby, while not abandoning the other grounds of appeal, relied on two main grounds of appeal which are set out in the grounds of appeal as follows:
2. The learned trial judge erred in law and in fact in ruling:
(b) That no such caution was necessary.
(c) That the accused gave an informed consent to the taking of a set of fingerprints from him.
(d) That the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1984 were fully or adequately complied with prior to a set of fingerprints being taken from the accused.”
THE FAILURE TO PROVE THE REGULATIONS
This ground of appeal refers solely to the second count in the indictment, in which specific reference is made to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1988 and 1993, as made under section 5 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. Under this count the applicant was charged with an offence contrary to section 15 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 (as amended). Section 15 of the Act of 1997, where relevant, provides:
“15(1) Any person who has in his possession, whether lawfully or not, a controlled drug for the purpose of selling or otherwise supplying it to another in contravention of Regulations under section 5 of this Act, shall be guilty of an offence.”
Section 5 of the Act of 1977, where relevant, provides:
“5(1) For the purpose of preventing the misuse of controlled drugs, the Minister may make regulations –
(a) prohibiting absolutely, or permitting subject to such conditions or exceptions as may be specified in the Regulations, or subject to any licence, permit or other form of authority as may be so specified –
(iii) the supply, the offering to supply or the distribution of controlled drugs.”
The relevant Regulations of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1988 (S.I 328 of 1988) and the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Regulations 1993 (S.I. 342 of 1993). Article 4 of the 1988 Regulations sets out a general prohibition:
“4(1) Subject to the provisions of these Regulations a person shall not –
(a) produce a controlled drug,
(b) supply or offer to supply a controlled drug, or
(c) import or export a controlled drug.”
Mr Gageby S.C., submitted that it was the invariable practice in this jurisdiction that in prosecutions brought under section 15 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 the prosecution proved the Regulations upon which it relied in the proof of its case. This invariably was done by handing into the court a copy of the Regulations published by the stationery office. While counsel for the Director made a number of legal submissions asserting that the proving of the Regulations was not necessary in law, it appears to be conceded that the practice is as asserted by counsel for the applicant.
Mr Gageby submitted that the Regulations made under the Act form an integral part of the statement of the offence charging the accused person and it was therefore essential in a criminal trial that they be proved. Regulations made by statutory instrument were not in the same position as statutes. Under section 6(1) of the Interpretation Act 1937 it was provided that every Act of the Oireachtas should be judicially noticed. This judicial notice did not, however, extent to statutory instruments, which must be proved. The method of proof of statutory instruments and Regulations was set out in section 4(1) of the Documentary Evidence Act 1925, which provided that such Regulations should be proved by the production of a copy of the Regulations either in Iris Oifigiúil or as printed by the stationery office. This was the invariable practice and this the prosecution had notably failed to do, as was, indeed, freely conceded by counsel at the trial.
Following a rather confused discussion with the learned trial judge counsel for the prosecution had applied to re-open the prosecution case but this application had been firmly rejected by the learned trial judge. On the other hand the learned trial judge had also rejected the defence submissions regarding the Regulations but without giving any reasons for so doing. Mr Gageby contended that it was not open to the learned trial judge to make such a ruling without giving any reasons.
Mr Gageby primarily relied on the judgment of this court (delivered by Davitt J.) in The People (At the Suit of the Attorney General) v Richard Kennedy  I.R. 517. In that case the necessity for formal proof of Emergency Orders made under the Emergency Powers Act 1939 arose. At the trial in the Special Criminal Court, Stationery Office copies of the relevant Emergency Orders were produced by the prosecution but were not formally proved. On appeal this court held that the Emergency Orders were not in the same position as statutes and that therefore they required to be formally proved in evidence. The court accordingly allowed the appeal and set aside the convictions and sentences. Further reference to this case will be made later in this judgment. Mr Gageby submitted that this remained the law.
In the later case of The People (Attorney General) v Gerard Griffin  I.R. 416 this court quashed a conviction against an accused on the ground that there had been a failure on the part of the prosecution to prove formally a statutory instrument which created the offence charged but the court then directed a retrial of the accused for the offence. The facts of that case were very similar to those in the instant case, the statutory instrument in question being the then current Dangerous Drugs (Raw Opium Coca Leaves and Indian Hemp) Regulations 1937. Following the issue of a certificate pursuant to section 29 of the Courts of Justice Act 1924 the Supreme Court on appeal considered the question as to whether in those circumstances a retrial could be ordered. The Supreme Court allowed the appeal, holding that where the prosecution had failed to tender the evidence necessary for a conviction, this court had no power to order a re-trial.
Mr Gageby also referred to a recent judgment of the Supreme Court in Attorney General .v. Martin Parke (Supreme Court unreported 6th December 2004). This was an extradition case in which the question of the necessity for formal proof of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations arose. The court held that in the particular circumstances of an extradition case, which was not a criminal trial, formal proof of the Regulations was not strictly necessary. However, in the judgments both of Murray C.J. and of Denham J., Mr Gageby submitted, there was a clear implication that formal proof would be necessary in a criminal trial. On these authorities, Mr Gageby submitted, the applicant’s conviction on the second count should be quashed.
Counsel for the Director, Mr McGinn, submitted that it was not necessary in law to establish in evidence the existence and content of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1988 and 1993 in order to prove an allegation of possession of a controlled drug for the purposes of supply contrary to section 15 of the Act of 1977. He submitted that counsel for the applicant himself had not asserted that there was a rule of law which necessitated the proving of such Regulations, and conceded that it was no more than the “invariable practice”. Mr McGinn submitted that the act of possessing cocaine for the purpose of selling or otherwise supplying it to another was proscribed by the provisions of the primary legislation without any necessity to have reference to any statutory instrument. The primary legislation made it clear that there was an absolute prohibition on the possession of a controlled drug for the purpose of sale or supply.
Mr McGinn relied on the case of The State (Taylor) v Circuit Court Judge of Wicklow and Others  I.R. 311. In that case, which was one of habeas corpus and certiorari, the prosecutor, Mr Taylor, had been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment on a drunk driving charge. It was argued that the conviction was bad in that it did not show on its face that section 30 of the Road Traffic Act 1933 was in force at the time of the alleged offence and that the statutory instrument bringing the relevant section into force should have been formally proved at the trial. The Supreme Court rejected this contention, holding that the Circuit Court judge was entitled to make use of his general knowledge as a judge gained in administering the Act for many years and that he was entitled to take judicial notice of the fact that the Act was in force. The judgment of the court was delivered by Davitt J. Having considered various aspects of the doctrine of judicial notice Davitt J. stated (at page 321):
Mr McGinn submitted that this was analogous to the present case and that the “final stage” had been reached in respect of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations. Mr McGinn in addition drew attention to the case of Director of Public Prosecutions v Collins  I.L.R.M. 447 in which it was held by the Supreme Court in a drunk driving case that a judge was entitled to take judicial notice of the making of Regulations when their making is notorious, well established, embedded in judicial decisions, and susceptible of uncontroversial proof.
In the People (Attorney General) v Kennedy this court gave full consideration to the question of the formal proof of statutory instruments – in that case of emergency orders. At page 520 to 521 of the report Davitt J. on behalf of the courts stated:-
“Statutory Orders, such as the emergency orders in question, are not in the same position as statutes, and the courts are not entitled to take judicial notice of them. They must be proved in evidence. While emergency orders made under the provisions of the Emergency Powers Act 1939 have, by virtue of section 10, the force and effect of law, a court is not entitled to give any effect to an instrument which is alleged to be an emergency order unless and until it is satisfied that the instrument is, in fact, what it is alleged to be; and it can only be so satisfied when it has been proved in evidence that the instrument in question is an order duly made in exercise of the powers conferred by the Act. Section 4 of the Documentary Evidence Act 1925 provides two convenient methods of giving prima facie evidence of such fact, and it is to be regretted that, with such convenient methods of proof readily and immediately available, counsel for the prosecution did not think fit to adopt one or the other, particularly when the matter had been specifically brought to his attention by the submission of the defendant’s solicitor when making his application to the court for a direction…
It is clear that in this decision the court laid particular emphasis on the burden of proof laid on the prosecution in a criminal trial and the need for clear and unequivocal evidence in discharging that burden.
In the People (Attorney General) v Griffin (already cited), where the issues were closely analogous to the present case, this court followed the Kennedy decision. The Supreme Court raised no query as to the correctness of that decision, noting that counsel for the prosecution had conceded “that the matter was ruled by the decision in Kennedy’s case to the effect that, in the absence of proof of the making of the relevant statutory instrument, the conviction could not stand” (page 419). The Supreme Court went further in ruling that in such circumstances this court had no power to order a retrial, Henchy J. stating (at page 420):
“In my opinion, when a conviction is quashed because the prosecution failed to tender the evidence necessary to sustain a conviction, the accused should not be subject to the worry of a retrial in which the prosecution could mend its hand, unless there is clear statutory authority for such course. Section 5 of the Act of 1928 provides no such authority.”
In Taylor v Wicklow Circuit Judge, Davitt J. in the High Court referred in some detail to Kennedy’s case but held that there was a valid distinction between that case and Taylor’s case. The distinction he made rested upon the cogent reasons given by the Circuit Court judge in that case as to why he felt justified in taking judicial notice that the relevant section of the Road Traffic Act was in force. This cannot be compared with the situation in the instant case where the learned trial judge, in rejecting Mr Gageby’s submissions regarding the Regulations, did not state that he was taking judicial notice of the Regulations and did not give any reasons whatever for his ruling.
It is also notable that in Attorney General v Martin Parke (unreported Supreme Court 6th December 2004) the most recent judgment opened to this court, both Murray C.J. and Denham J. in holding that formal proof of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations was not necessary in an extradition matter, were most careful to distinguish between the situation in an extradition matter and that which obtains in a criminal trial. At page 11 of his judgment Murray C.J. stated:
“In addressing this issue I think I should first of all state the obvious, namely, that although extradition may entail serious consequences for a person subjected to it, such as the loss of liberty, extradition proceedings are not a criminal process and are not in the nature of a criminal trial. The burden of proof of facts which may rest on the applicant in these proceedings is not that of a criminal trial. I hasten to add that the learned High Court judge did not approach this matter on such basis and it is just that I consider it appropriate at this point to distinguish between extradition proceedings and other forms of proceedings, criminal and civil. An extradition proceeding, pursuant to the relevant Acts, has its own special features which in a certain sense makes it sui generis”.
Denham J. at page 8 of her judgment stated:
“The role of the trial judge in an application for an order of extradition is unique. The hearing is not a criminal trial, in the adversarial sense where the State must prove the guilt of the accused beyond all reasonable doubt. …it is a unique procedure where the court holds an inquiry as to whether the criteria set out in the Extradition Act 1965, as amended, has been met.”
In the event, even in an extradition case, both learned judges held that the relevant Regulations should have been produced at the High Court and the matter was remitted to the High Court to enable this to be done.
While the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of D.P.P. v Collins appears to take a somewhat different line, even in that case reference is made to Kennedy’s case and it is acknowledged by Henchy J. in his judgment (at page 450), that where the piece of delegated legislation has created the offence charged “the courts are likely to hold (as they did in Kennedy’s case and in Griffin’s case) a conviction to be bad for failure to produce the designated piece of delegated legislation creating the offence, for without such production the existence or the precise ingredients of the offence may be in doubt; and, further the court may be deprived of an opportunity of ensuring that the accused will not be convicted (in breach of article 15 s.5 of the Constitution) for an act which had not been declared to be an infringement of the law at the date of its commission.”
It appears to this court, therefore, that the weight of authority is in favour of Mr Gageby’s contention on behalf of the applicant that it is incumbent on the prosecution to prove the relevant Regulations in the manner prescribed by the Documentary Evidence Act 1925. Even if that were not so in every case, the position in the instant case is that counsel for the prosecution conceded that the Regulations had not been proved and subsequently applied to re-open the prosecution case in order to prove them, thus tending to acknowledge that such proof was necessary. The learned trial judge, having refused that application, went on to reject the submissions of counsel for the defence giving no reasons for his decision. It appears to this court that the learned trial judge erred in so doing.
This court will treat the hearing of the application of the applicant for leave as the hearing of the appeal and will allow the appeal against the applicant’s conviction and sentence on the second count in the indictment. In accordance with the decision of the Supreme Court in Griffin’s case (quoted above) no retrial will be ordered.
THE ADMISSIBILITY OF FINGERPRINT EVIDENCE
Prior to the opening of the prosecution case at the applicant’s trial, in the absence of the jury, counsel for the defence raised the issue of the admissibility of the evidence in which it was alleged that a fingerprint matching that of the applicant was found inside the lid of the first-aid box containing the sachets of cocaine. The fingerprints of the applicant had been taken by a Garda subsequent to his arrest while he was held in custody pursuant to section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984. The Garda evidence was that these fingerprints had been taken with his consent and that he had signed the relevant consent form. It does not appear that the form was produced in evidence by the prosecution at the trial.
Counsel for the defence submitted to the learned trial judge that in the taking of the applicant’s fingerprints the Gardai had not fulfilled the procedure set out under section 6 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984, whereby the authority of a member of the Garda Siochana not below the rank of Superintendent is required for the taking of a person’s fingerprints. No such authority had been obtained in the applicant’s case. It seemed to be suggested that such authority was not required because the applicant consented to the procedure. Mr Gageby disagreed with this interpretation. He submitted that in any event it appeared that prior to the taking of his fingerprints the applicant was not cautioned or warned that the fingerprints might be used in evidence against him. The need for a caution applied on the principle of fairness and the taking of fingerprints was a partial invasion of the applicant’s human right to bodily integrity.
In reply counsel for the prosecution submitted that as there was a consent given for the fingerprinting, the terms of the 1984 Act and of the Regulations made thereunder had been complied with. The applicant had been cautioned at the time of his arrest a short time before and this was sufficient. There was no provision for a specific caution in the Act or in the Regulations.
In his ruling on these submissions the learned trial judge stated (Book A page 68):
“As to the taking of the prints. While the Act does say that it should be on the authority of a Superintendent, there is no evidence that that was so. Now unlike the caution given prior to any oral admissions or written admissions being made, print of (sic) objective evidence, I do not believe a further caution was necessary before taking the prints and with the accused consenting, I believe that adequately makes the taking valid and legal.”
In his grounds of appeal as set out above, the applicant alleges that the learned trial judge erred in law in holding that no caution was needed and that the provisions of the Act of 1984 were fully or adequately complied with.
Counsel for the applicant, in the hearing before this court, stressed that at the time of the trial the prosecution had not produced the form which it was alleged the applicant had signed before the taking of his fingerprints. There was no evidence that any caution had been administered. It was also clear that no authority for the taking of fingerprints had been given by a Garda Superintendent. Garda Lowry, who had taken the applicant’s fingerprints, had stated (Book A page 47):
He further stated (at page 48)
“He gave me said he had no problem with the consent form (sic), he signed the consent form giving the permission.”
The applicant was not warned that his fingerprints might be used in evidence against him; he therefore had not given an informed consent. He might well have believed that his fingerprints were being taken merely for the purpose of records.
Counsel for the Director, Mr McGinn, submitted that the purpose of taking fingerprints would be patiently obvious to a suspect. The only conceivable reason for members of An Garda Siochana, who are investigating a crime to take fingerprints from a suspect is to exonerate or incriminate that suspect in the crime. In these circumstances it was entirely unnecessary for the Garda to inform the applicant that his fingerprints might be used in evidence against him. Mr McGinn further argued that the formal caution merely served to remind suspects of their continuing right to silence and had no relevance to the admissibility or otherwise of fingerprints. The wording of the caution was simply inappropriate to cater for that situation.
Mr McGinn also submitted that there was no requirement under the relevant legislation to seek the authorisation of a Superintendent where the suspect’s consent to the taking of his fingerprints had already been obtained. It could not be intended that both the Superintendent’s authority and the applicant’s consent were needed. The only reasonable and rational interpretation of the Act and Regulations was that a Superintendent’s authorisation was only necessary where a suspect refuses to consent to his fingerprints being taken.
Section 6 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984, where relevant, provides as follows:
(d) take, or cause to be taken, his fingerprints and palm prints;…
(b) A consent shall be signed and be recorded in the custody record or a separate document.”
The Criminal Justice Act 1984, section 4, established the power of a member of the Garda Siochana to detain in a Garda Station a person suspected of having committed an offence for a certain period for the purpose of the proper investigation of the offence. Both the Act itself and the Regulations made under section 7 of the Act contained provisions designed to give certain protections to persons detained under section 4. Thus, Article 18 of the 1987 Regulations quoted above, provides that finger and palm prints are not to be taken from a detained person without his consent. This is, however, subject to the exception, contained in parentheses, that such finger and palm prints may be taken without consent “pursuant to a power conferred on a member (of the Garda Siochana) by law”. Such a power is “conferred by law” under section 6(1)(d) of the 1984 Act itself. The subsection clearly refers to fingerprints taken without consent. This power may not be exercised without the authority of a member of the Garda Siochana not below the rank of Superintendent. Thus the Garda who wishes to take the fingerprints of a suspect must either do so by consent (such consent be evidenced in writing) or by means of the proper authority. In the view of this court counsel for the Director is correct in his submission that both consent and authority are not simultaneously required.
There remains the question of a specific caution or warning. The normal wording of the caution given on arrest, prior to interview or prior to the taking of a statement is not precisely appropriate to the situation of the taking of fingerprints, since it clearly refers to anything the suspect may “say”. It will in general be desirable that a suspect should be informed of the purpose of taking fingerprints and of the fact that he may refuse in the first instance to undergo that procedure. In the circumstances of the present case, however, it is hard to believe that the applicant did not realise the purpose for which his fingerprints were being taken. While Garda Lowry ‘s evidence is that he told the applicant that he “intended” to take his fingerprints, he then went on to ask him to volunteer to have the prints taken and the applicant said he had “no problem” with that. While the consent form was not produced at the trial the fact that the applicant signed the form was not challenged. It should of course, also be borne in mind that even if the applicant had been specifically cautioned and had then refused his consent it would have been open to Garda Lowry to have sought the proper authority from the Garda Superintendent to deal with the matter under section 6 of the 1984 Act.
The case for the prosecution at the trial of the applicant, in the view of this court, suffered from a number of weaknesses, some of which were mentioned by the learned trial judge. Among these weaknesses was the absence in evidence of he form of consent to the taking of the applicant’s fingerprints. It would also have been better practice to inform the applicant of the purpose for which his fingerprints were required. However, in the court’s opinion, these factors were not in all the circumstances of the case sufficient to render inadmissible the fingerprint evidence. The learned trial judge was correct in his ruling on this issue. This ground of appeal therefore fails and the conviction and sentence of the applicant on the first count (possession of a controlled drug) will stand.
DPP v Daniel Cleary