Trial set for December in Dalton Park riot case

The 67 defendants accused of participating in rioting in Dalton Park last year were handed their books of evidence at a special sitting of Mullingar District court.Those accused will now face trial at Tullamore Circuit on December 1.The marathon court session lasted from 10.30am until 9pm on Monday as the Gardaí and State Solicitor Peter Jones questioned defendants over the issuing of legal aid. In all 88,000 pages of evidence were presented to the court by the Director of Public Prosecutions.Judge John Neilan flatly refused to issue legal aid in four cases, where defendants had declared that they owned valuable "08 and "09 cars. One defendant who had applied for and was refused legal aid, declared that he owned a Toyota car worth €13,000.But in total almost 75 per cent of those charged with offences ranging from simple public order matters to violent disorder and possession of 'articles' with intent, received legal aid, including a man who declared having €115,000 in the Credit Union in his statement of means.Two teenage girls were also sent forward for trial "in camera". The girls who cannot be named for legal reasons were charged with criminal damage as well as possessing articles with intent to cause harm.During the hearings Judge Neilan referred to the 'meagre' sums received by the country"s pensioners on at least five occasions.Referring to cases where defendants had valuable assets such as cars, the judge said that there were many people in the state who had worked their whole lives without ever owning a car of their own.'Why should the tax payer foot the bill for your legal fees?' he asked a defendant. 'There are people in this country who have worked their whole lives and are now living on something like €200 a week. So why should the state pay for you?'The judge also noted that State Solicitor Peter Jones would 'go down in history' for bringing 67 defendants to trial for offences committed during the same incident.'I"m not quite sure about the Guinness Book of Records Mr Jones...' joked Judge Neilan. 'But you have certainly proven yourself to be an outstanding prosecutor,' he said.