26 Sept 2022

Man accused of murdering his wife and two young children will go on trial next year

Man accused of murdering his wife and two young children will go on trial next year

A 37-year-old man accused of murdering his wife and two young children at their south Dublin home will go on trial at the Central Criminal Court in June next year.

Sameer Syed of Grosvenor Lodge, Rathmines, Dublin 6 is charged with murdering his wife Seema Banu (37), his daughter Asfira Riza (11) and son Faizan Syed (6) at Llewellyn Court, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16 on October 28 last year.

Ms Banu, who was from India, lived in a house in Llewellyn Court with her two children. Their bodies were found after residents in the estate became concerned when the family hadn't been seen in several days and alerted the gardaí.

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions Brendan Grehan SC on Monday told Mr Justice Michael White at the Central Criminal Court that the matter had just been returned for trial and said the accused was charged with the murder of his wife and two children.

Mr Grehan said that the District Court had made certain orders in light of a Court of Appeal ruling but those orders no longer applied due to the change in the law. "There is no impediment to them being named," he added.

Mr Justice White said in that case he did not need to make any order. 

When Mr Syed was charged with three counts of murder at Dun Laoghaire District Court on November 30 last, arresting officer Detective Sergeant John White told Judge Ann Watkin that reporting restrictions under Section 252 of the Children Act applied because two of the deceased were juveniles. Judge Watkin reminded the media at the same court sitting that reporting restrictions applied and a subsequent attempt by the media to have them lifted was unsuccessful.

Defence counsel Roisin Lacey SC told Mr Justice White today that there was a considerable amount of material in the case. 

Mr Grehan said that other material could become available from abroad, which might lengthen the trial. 

Mr Justice White set a trial date for June 15, 2022. The case is expected to last five weeks.

Mr Syed appeared via video-link for today's brief hearing and he was remanded in custody until that date. 

On April 28, Mr Syed was sent forward for the trial to the Central Criminal Court after being served with the book of evidence. Free legal aid was also granted and there was no State objection.

The Children (Amendment) Act 2021 was signed into law by President Michael D Higgins last month after passing in the Dail and the Seanad and came into force two weeks ago.

This means that, following the controversial Court of Appeal ruling in October last year, the law has now been changed to remove the restriction on naming deceased children except in certain exceptional circumstances. In cases where specific orders remain, applications have to be made to the courts by media organisations or relatives in each case to lift those orders.

The Court of Appeal found that Section 252 of the Children Act, 2001 prohibited the identification of child victims and made it an offence to publish anything that could identify a child who is an alleged victim of an offence, including a deceased child.

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