Pubdate: Sun, 12 Nov 2000
Source: Sunday Times (UK)
Copyright: 2000 Times Newspapers Ltd.
Contact:  PO Box 496, London E1 9XW, United Kingdom
Fax: +44-(0)20-782 5658
Author: John Mooney


A DRUG dealer is attempting to overturn his conviction on the basis
that Cyril Kelly, the former High Court judge, heard part of his
co-defendant's smuggling case in private chambers. The former judge
will be subpoenaed as a witness for the Dublin drug dealer, who claims
that he would not have been convicted if the evidence had been heard
in public.

The shadowy drama, involving a drug trafficker and a spy, threatens to
revive memories of the Philip Sheedy affair. Kelly resigned as a judge
after it was revealed that he had reduced the sentence of a drunk driver.

Eamonn Kelly, who is serving 14 years in Portlaoise prison, is one of
two men tried for drug trafficking after being arrested in a van in
Dublin in 1992. Kelly was convicted.

His co-accused, John Conlon, claimed to work for international
intelligence agencies. Prior to sentencing Conlon, who pleaded guilty,
Justice Kelly took the unusual step of allowing officers from the FBI
and Scotland Yard to give mitigating evidence about Conlon in private
chambers. Eamonn Kelly believes the evidence heard in private would
have cast doubt on his conviction by showing that Conlon was acting
alone in smuggling the cocaine.

Cyril Kelly did not preside over Eamonn Kelly's trial.

Legal sources say the judge's decision to hear evidence in chambers
was highly unusual.

After a lengthy legal battle, Kelly got access to the transcripts of
the evidence heard in chambers. The prisoner, who is appealing against
his conviction, now plans to force the former judge to disclose the
crucial evidence in open court.

Conlon has supported Kelly's claims of innocence.

The agent, from Westport, Co Mayo, claims to have worked as a spy for
international police agencies, including Mossad.

In 1992, Kelly was arrested with Conlon soon after picking him up at
Dublin airport. Conlon had flown in from Miami. The men, under garda
surveillance, drove to Jury's hotel, where Conlon picked up a plastic
bag filled with cocaine. Gardai arrested the men.

The volume of drugs led gardai to conclude that the haul was destined
for Britain. Kelly denied knowing the plastic bag contained cocaine.
He said he collected Conlon at the request of a friend, named in court
as Jim Beirne from Strokestown, Co Roscommon, who has since been
convicted of a separate drug-trafficking offence.

In custody, Conlon told gardai he was working for Scotland Yard and
was visited by detectives from Special Branch. He and Kelly were
released on bail and Conlon disappeared.

Kelly, who fought the charges, was tried, released, then re-tried and

Conlon, who was rearrested in London in 1994, was extradited to
Ireland and stood trial in 1997. Cyril Kelly sentenced Conlon to 10
years after he pleaded guilty.

Eamonn Kelly was one of Dublin's notorious criminals and his
conviction was seen as a blow to organised crime.
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