Off the fence
IF I ever err in the eyes of the law, I want Judge Seamus Hughes to send me down. Or up! ( As was the recent colourful precedent he set.) Although no matter how delinquent or wayward I could become, I’d never abuse my adopted county, or its native population. Not on the record anyway.
Seriously though, Seamus Hughes’s recent sentencing, in Milford District Court, of a man who verbally abused a Mayo garda, gives pause for thought.
The court was told that thirty eight-year-old, Joseph McElwee, had called Garda Nicholas Freyne, who is a native of Ballyhaunis, a ‘w***er” and told him to ‘f**k off home to Mayo’.
After Judge Hughes listened to the evidence, he observed: “I want to come back in a month’s time with evidence that you did the four stations of Croagh Patrick and said a few prayers.”
The judge quipped that the accused might then ‘have a different impression of County Mayo and its people’.
Normally, for an offence like this, perpetrators are ordered to contribute a sum of money to a charity chosen by the judge. Or they may get a severe rap on the knuckles, during which they are bound to the peace for the following 12 months.
Which sentence do you think is the best deterrent? It has to be climbing Croagh Patrick.
Where better a place to reassess one’s way-of-life, one’s misdemeanours, with all its spiritual and historical reverberations.
Of course, Judge Hughes isn’t the only dispenser of justice to impose quirky and unusual sentences. Perhaps he should meet Painesville’s (yes, that’s the name) Municipal Judge Michael Cicconetti. Over the years he has gained quite a reputation in the state of Ohio for his rather creative sentencing.
In November 2005 he ordered a woman who abandoned 35 kittens to spend a night in the woods, without water or food. Two months earlier, park rangers had found the abandoned kittens, some of whom died later from respiratory infections.
“How would you like to be dumped off at a metro park late at night, spend the night listening to coyotes … listening to the raccoons around you in the dark night, and sit out there in the cold, not knowing where you’re going to get your next meal, not knowing when you are going to be rescued?” Judge Cicconetti asked the defendant.
Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t the first unusual sentence doled out by Cicconetti. He has also ordered a man who called police officers ‘pigs’, to stand on a street corner beside a 350-pound pig with a sign that read: “This is not a police officer.” (lol). Cicconetti’s litany of colourful sentences are hilarious. But, it is telling that only two recipients of his creative sentencing have re-offended.
Bet Judge Seamus Hughes will not have to send Mr McElwee up the Reek again either.