Law Student Shoots Solicitor, Barrister Touts for Defence Brief, 1926

From the Londonderry Sentinel, 3 June 1926:

A shocking crime was committed in Dublin on Tuesday night as a result of which Daniel Joseph Gleeson, a law student, giving an address in Clonliffe Road, has been arrested on a charge of murder. Shortly after seven p.m. it is alleged that Gleeson entered the office of Mr William Ryan, a sixty three year old solicitor, in Lower Gardiner Street, and some time afterwards information was conveyed that shots had been heard coming from the house… The police found Mr Ryan lying apparently in a dying condition, blood pouring from his head. He was removed to Jervis Street Hospital, where he died a few hours later.”

Mr Gleeson, who was found in the office at the time of the police entry, subsequently made and signed the following statement:

“I did not mean to kill the man at all but just to put the wind up him, he has annoyed my family for years. I believe from what I heard from my father before he died that Mr Ryan was responsible for getting Mr Brooke murdered at Westland Row station and he certainly broke my father’s heart and he has been conspiring for the past six years to prove my mother incompetent to manage her affairs so as to cloak another solicitors who swindled her out of property in which they were aided and abetted by the Land Registry and the Irish Land Commission.”

The Mr Brooke referred to was Frank Brooke, Chairman of the Dublin and South Eastern Railway, who had been shot dead by a party of IRA men at Westland Row Railway Station in July 1920.

An interesting side-event occurred at the time of Gleeson’s charge in the District Court, when his original solicitor Mr P O’Brien told the court that he had received a note from a Mr Hare BL requesting that he call him at the Law Library. Mr O’Brien – who did not reply and subsequently heard that he had been replaced by a Mr Erskine – expressed the view that it was high time that his profession took steps to protect themselves against barrister touting!

Gleeson – a former first-class honours student – was subsequently found insane and unfit to plead and ordered to be detained at the pleasure of the Governor-General. I wonder was there anything in his story about Mr Ryan and the murder of Mr Brooke?

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Author: Ruth Cannon BL

Irish barrister sharing the history of the Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland, and other Irish courts.

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