Shortt awarded €1.9m for wrongful imprisonment

12 October 2005

Donegal nightclub owner Frank Shortt, who was wrongfully jailed for more than two years, has been awarded almost €2 million by the High Court.

Mr Shortt (69), a married father of five, with an address at Redcastle, Co Donegal, was jailed on charges of allowing the sale of drugs at his premises, the Point Inn, in Inishowen.Frank is disappointed at the level of the award particularly in light of everything he has gone through 
Solicitor Kathryn Ward

Mr Shortt’s conviction was in 1995 and an initial appeal by him was turned down. After his release in 1997, he pursued the matter and was allowed a new appeal. He spent 27 months in jail.

In November 2002, the Director of Public Prosecutions informed the Court of Criminal Appeal that he was not opposing Mr Shortt’s appeal. The appeal court also decided that Mr Shortt had been the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

The court ruled that the miscarriage was on grounds of newly discovered facts – the deliberate suppression of material by two gardaí, Det Garda Noel McMahon and Supt Kevin Lennon.

Both gardaí were formerly attached to Buncrana Garda station and were involved in “Operation Spider”, an undercover Garda operation into alleged drug dealing at the Point Inn in 1992. Det McMahon was the chief prosecution witness at Mr Shortt’s trial while Supt Lennon, then an inspector, headed the investigation.

Mr Shortt sued the State for his wrongful conviction. A final judgment in the compensation claim had been anticipated last May but was deferred.

The president of the High Court Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan made a payment totalling €1,923,871 to Mr Shortt.

Speaking after the judgement Mr Shortt said: “Sally (and I are very disappointed with the judgement and that’s all we’re prepared to say at this time.”

Kathryn Ward, solicitor for the family, said they would be looking at the judgement handed down today and would be considering an appeal.

“Judge Finnegan has delivered a long and detailed judgement which describes the trauma and damage caused to Frank Shortt as a result of his miscarriage of justice.

“Frank’s life has been devastated and he is still trying to come to terms with what has happened to him.

“We’re going to take time to consider this judgement.

“Frank is disappointed at the level of the award particularly in light of everything he has gone through,” she said.

She said Mr Shortt had never received an offer to settle out of court in the case and this was the first case of its kind in Ireland.

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