Ahern to Close Loophole That Lets Killers Go Free
Byline: Niamh Lyons Political Correspondent
A LOOPHOLE that allows murderers go scot-free - even if new evidence proves they are guilty - is to be closed.
Groundbreaking legislation will put an end to the notorious 'double jeopardy' rule, which says that murder suspects cannot be tried for the same crime twice.
Under the law as it stands, a person found not guilty once must not be put at risk of being tried again for the same offence.
But this will be abolished by Justice Minister Dermot Ahern's new Criminal Procedure Bill - which went before the Dail yesterday.
It will allow alleged killers to be retried for a crime if new evidence emerges, even if they have already been freed. Under the new regulations, the Director of Public Prosecutions will also have the power to seek a retrial where evidence of 'trial tampering' emerges.
It means, for instance, that had callous killer Joe O'Reilly been acquitted of murdering his wife Rachel in their north Dublin home in October 2004, he could still face another trial - if for instance, the murder weapon was eventually found.
However, other areas of Minister Ahern's Criminal Justice Bill have been criticised by opposition parties and interest groups. The minister told the Dail yesterday that his new laws will clamp down on firearms, knives and other weapons, and that the rules on victim impact statements will be reformed. …