Updated: 12/11/16 : 06:13:57
Printable Version   Bookmark and Share Share This

current

Sligo newspaper apologises to High Court

A Sligo newspaper has apologised before the High Court to a daughter of convicted killer and rapist Ronnie Dunbar for wrongly suggesting in an article she had participated in one of his crimes.

Samantha Conroy sued the Sligo Weekender over an article it had published in July 2012 about her father who is imprisoned at Wheatfield Prison.

Dunbar is currently serving sentences for various offences including a life sentence for the manslaughter of teenager Melissa Mahon in 2006, and 10 years for the rape of his daughter.

Conroy represented by Jim O’Callaghan SC and Eanna Mulloy SC instructed by solicitor Donnacha Anhold said she had been defamed in the article.

As a result she sought damages, including exemplary damages for defamation.

Denial

In its defence the newspaper denied it had published the article maliciously. It also pleaded that the reference in the article was the result of a genuine mistake.

It had made an unqualified offer of amends, including an apology to Conroy. The offer of amends was rejected in 2015.

The action was due to be heard before a judge and jury at the Four Courts in Dublin on Friday. However Mr Justice Colm MacEochaidh was told the matter had been resolved.

As part of the settlement agreement an apology to Ms Conroy was read by Gary Compton Bl on behalf of the newspaper.

Counsel said: “in the article the Sligo Weekender reported that Ronnie Dunbar had suggested that his daughter Samantha Conroy may have participated in one of his crimes.”

“Completely false”

The Sligo Weekender accepts that this suggestion was completely false. At no stage did Samantha Conroy ever participate in any of Ronnie Dunbar’s crimes. The Sligo Weekender accepts that Samantha Conroy was a victim of Ronnie Dunbar, and in 2011 was convicted of her rape.

“The Sligo Weekender apologises to Samantha Conroy for the distress and upset this article caused.”

No other terms of the settlement between the parties were given in open court.

In 2009 Ronnie Dunbar also known as Ronnie McManus was found guilty by a jury at the Central Criminal Court of the manslaughter of 14-year-old Melissa Mahon between 14 and 30 September 2006.

He was jailed for life by Mr Justice Barry White following a 25-day trial in May 2009.

The trial heard that he strangled the 14-year-old and dumped her body in a river in Co Sligo. The girl had been in the care of the State, living voluntarily at at a care home in Sligo.