Tunney trials have cost taxpayers over £100,000

THE cost of four trials in which a top Fermanagh showjumper was cleared of having underage sex with a 15-year-old has cost the tax payer over £100,000.

The underage sex trial, which collapsed three times amid legal concerns, cost a total of over £200,000 which included court costs, Public Prosecution Service costs and legal aid. However, the full figure is not yet known as fees for junior counsel for the second, third and fourth trials have not yet been paid.

The estimated court costs include judicial and staff salaries as well as facilities and juror costs.

The figure was disclosed in response to an Assembly question from the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Maurice Morrow.


After the Tempo man was cleared of the offences he said he was “extremely pleased” the ordeal he and his family have suffered is over.

He was acquitted of six counts of knowingly having sex with someone under the age of 16.

The jury accepted the 42-year-old’s pleas of innocence during the 12-day trial.

A the time of the trial the jury of eight men and three women accepted the claims of his defence QC John McCrudden that his accuser was a “brazen liar … a damaged child … a flawed individual” who “at the drop of a hat could cold-bloodly lie”.

The jury also heard that the prosecution’s forensic strategy, which claimed to have produced his DNA profile, was also flawed as the tests on samples of ‘sperm heads’, along with other possible innocent materials taken from the girl’s bedroom, were not carried out in the proper order.

Mr McCrudden said that while a defence expert argued the combined material produced a DNA profile linking Mr Tunney to the bedroom, it could not be said which of the samples had gone to make that profile.

Speaking to the Fermanagh Herald, Lord Morrow said the case appeared to be “fraught with difficulities” and said he believes a “review is required”.


He added: “Trials were started and aborted requiring juries to be sworn and stood down, and ultimately the matter was shifted for hearing in Belfast, following three unsuccessful attempts to get underway in the Fermanagh-Tyrone division.

“Alarm bells must have been ringing as the case progressed toward trial on all four attempts to be heard. “I’ve encountered numerous instances when both PSNI and PPS state there is insufficient evidence to bring a case. If this was relevant to this matter, questions need to be asked.

“Accountability must be permitted as to the viability of trials. While due process must be applied, it is essential this is closely monitored.

“The expenditure in this matter is high and I believe a review is required to ascertain if the case had a reasonable chance of a conviction.

“In addition, the Minister for Justice is very vocal on speeding up the judicial process.

“This case was in the lists for a number of years, and that is unacceptable.

“I have subsequently requested the Minister to instigate a review accordingly.”

In a statement issued through his solicitor, Chris McEvoy, shorty after he was acquitted, Mr Tunney said: “I am extremley pleased that this trial has finally come to its conclusion and my position throughout vindicated. It has been an ordeal for myself, my wife, our family and friends for the last number of years dealing with the false allegations made against me.”

Here’s the costs:

Gabriel Tunney Trial Costs


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