A prisoner on hunger strike as he awaits trial over the murder of rugby player Shane Geoghegan has been taken to court half naked in a wheelchair.
John Dundon was pushed in to the non-jury Special Criminal Court wearing only a pair of shorts, where he was due to stand trial for the murder of the Garryowen player in 2008.
The 29-year-old from Limerick, was taken from the high-security Portlaoise prison to hospital on Monday after his condition deteriorated. The court heard he was discharged on Monday night and returned to a different cell and refused to wear prison issued clothing on Tuesday morning.
Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding in the three judge court, asked if anybody had anything to say about the defendant’s “state of dress or undress” when he arrived in the dark-coloured knee length shorts. “If he is not dressed appropriately in court he will be absent from the court,” the judge added after the explanation.
Dundon told prison authorities last week that he had been refusing food and water. Last Friday he failed to have his trial for the murder of Mr Geoghegan adjourned.
He had gone to the High Court to challenge the Special Criminal Court ruling that the case should not be delayed until 2014. His legal team will lodge an application with the Supreme Court on Thursday.
Dundon claims the adjournment should have been granted because defence lawyers were given insufficient time to go through evidence, including hours of CCTV footage. Mr Geoghegan was murdered outside his home at Clonmore, Kilteragh, Dooradoyle, Limerick, on November 9 2008.
He had been watching an Ireland rugby international with friends and was shot several times as he returned home. His family members and partner Jenna Barry were in court for the hearing.
A group of gardai and prison officers stood around Dundon and tried to block him from view as he sat in the wheelchair throughout the hearing, holding his hands in a steeple position under his chin. A paramedic also sat in the court.
Defence barrister Martin O’Rourke explained his client’s absence of clothing and the lack of a medial report, as Dundon had not been available to give his consent for the prison doctor to release it. The trial was adjourned until Friday morning, pending an appeal to the Supreme Court on Thursday.