Some of the “inconsistencies” were also blatant. Rupert told the Gardai in his initial statement and also the Special Criminal Court during cross-examination that his trucking firm went into receivership because of a fatal crash that could have resulted in $50 million of personal injuries claims. Details of the bankruptcy were never disclosed by the prosecution. Defence investigators in the US discovered the details that he had filed for bankruptcy two weeks before the fatal crash. His claim that the bankruptcy was triggered by a disastrous road accident fits in with much of what Rupert was trying to project about himself as an honest businessman whose repeated bankruptcies were due to bad luck, not fraud. Later all public records relating to Rupert’s bankruptcies were wiped clean.
All of Rupert’s phone records disappeared, while his tax information which was on the public record at Dickson House, the Federal building in Chicago, was removed after Irish Americans inspected it but before they managed to get copies for the defence team in Ireland. Everything, which could portray Rupert as a dishonest and manipulative person, was wiped from the public records.
The court found that virtually the entire of the cross-examination of David Rupert spanning some 11 days concentrated on his activities and history within the US:
Mr. Hartnett S.C sought to discredit Mr Rupert and show him up to be an unreliable and untruthful witness and a person not worthy of being believed. To this end many topics were investigated: the production or not of photographs when he first met FBI agent Buckley and his two statements to the Gardai relative to same; his reputation in the eyes of New York state police officer trooper Hamill who described him as a street smart criminal, smuggler and person operating close to the margins of legality; his reputation in the eyes of FBI; his reputation in the local press in Messina; a police informer and betrayer of friendships; his retention of monies from the sale of his house which ought to have been paid to his bank; his views of the collusion between a local judge and that judge’s former partner; gambling negotiations in Florida with Mafia and other criminal types; his alleged arrest and detention for the abducting of two young (minor) girls in the Alabama area described as white slave trading; smuggling of aliens, arms, explosives, cigarettes and other contraband materials on the Canadian border. The use of bankruptcies in the US to avoid paying debts on more than one occasion; the relationship between his brother Dale and his employer, a former colleague of the witness and the fact that this colleague and Dale were charged, convicted and sentenced for dealing in drugs; bounced cheques; wire fraud; flamboyant cars; deals with tax authorities; use of book rights and film rights to raise money; etc.
Dublin’s non jury Special Criminal Court under the direction of Mr Justice Richard Johnston found Michael McKevitt guilty and sentenced him to 20 years imprisonment principally on the evidence of David Rupert.
As in any case in a proper court of law the legal maxim is, Justice must not only be done, but it must be seen to be done, by the people in the public gallery and the wider population.
There is a high value placed in criminal law on a judiciary independent from Government’s influence. Irrespective of the guilt or innocence of an accused, justice must be seen to be done. If one was to be honest at the conclusion of Michael’s trial in the non jury Special Criminal Court justice was not done and was not seen to be done.
Meanwhile in the civil case Michael’s attempts to defend himself were being met with obstacle after obstacle. The limited legal aid was stopped, the reason given by the Legal Aid Services was his conviction in the Dublin trial, even though others with numerous convictions have secured legal aid since. The Omagh families have also been granted legal aid despite the fact they had raised over a million pounds via private donations (including one from former secretary of state Peter Mandelson) plus a further £850,000 donated to the fund directly from the British government. Michael successfully challenged the illegal donation by the British Government in the high court in Belfast. The court found the British Government had acted unlawfully. The British government agency responsible for allocating legal aid then responded by granting the Omagh families legal aid whilst denying Michael legal aid.
Left without legal representation in the civil case Michael struggles to defend himself. Rupert will appear as a witness for the Omagh families and is expected to give evidence via satellite link.
Michael McKevitt Justice Campaign