Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Here's one of the stranger criminal defences you'll ever hear offered in any courtroom. The context is the trial of Frank Ward for shooting well-known Dublin publican Charlie Chawke. Ward, in the course of a robbery, blasted Chawke's leg with a shotgun and the leg had to be amputated from the knee. Other than that Chawke is OK now and has had the energy to deal with being a bit player in Bertie Ahern's bizarre financial affairs. But that's another story. Ward's defence is not just that Chawke tried to grab the gun that was being used to rob him, but that ...

[Chawke] had "as a businessman" sought to use the situation to take advantage of an "ODC". Mr Ward defined "ODC" to Judge McCartan to mean "ordinary decent criminal".

So you see, it's not just that Chawke was tactically wrong to grab the gun, he was morally wrong. Ward was also faced with a mountain of evidence and enough sense broke through on Day 2 of the trial for him to take a guilty plea. Maybe someone pointed out to him that the array of charges is actually light compared to the reports of what actually took place, which included shooting at a pursuing police car and pointing the gun at the police. Yet no charge of attempted murder.

No comments: