How much does a judge’s suit cost? While there is much talk nowadays about salaries for members of the judiciary, such minutiae is rarely examined.
But Judge Conal Gibbons had to face down such a query last week. The inquisitor was a defendant at Castlebar District Court last Wednesday none too happy with the judge’s inquiries.
Judge Gibbons asked Charlie McDonagh how much his 2007 Toyota Avensis car cost him, as he tried to ascertain if McDonagh was entitled to free legal aid.
“You don’t see me asking you questions, do you?,” McDonagh replied. “How much did you pay for your suit so?”
McDonagh was before the court charged with two public order offences - threatening and abusive behaviour and failure to comply with the directions of a Garda.
“Your behaviour as a witness is not very impressive,” said Judge Gibbons. “It echoes your behaviour on the day. You have no concept of how to behave in court or how to behave to Gardaí.
“If he thinks he can behave like this towards me or towards the Gardaí, he has another thing coming. He won’t keep quiet, he keeps interrupting and has no manners - although I can’t imprison him for that or there would be an awful lot of people in jail,” added Judge Gibbons.
Judge Gibbons disputed the authenticity of an earlier apology from McDonagh towards the arresting garda, Garda Shane O’Brien. He indicated he was going to remand him in custody to Harristown District Court in Castlerea, 48 hours later but, after adjourning the matter, Judge Gibbons dealt with the issue by manner of two convictions and fines totalling €1,500.
Charlie McDonagh (19) with an address of 35 Cois Abhainn, Castlebar, and also with an address in Longford, appeared before the court charged with threatening and abusive behaviour and failure to comply with directions of a Garda on January 1 last on the Old Westport Road in Castlebar.
Inspector Joe Doherty told the court that Garda Shane O’Brien noticed a disturbance at the entrance to Mayo General Hospital where a Garda traffic unit was in the process of seizing McDonagh’s car.
He told Garda O’Brien that ‘a good box in the mouth is what you’ll get and, believe me, when you’re off duty it’s what you’ll get’. Despite several attempts to get McDonagh to desist, he refused and was eventually arrested, after he tried to run away. Inspector Doherty told the court that McDonagh, who had no previous convictions, was offered an adult caution at Castlebar Garda Station but refused to take it. Had he taken it, he would not have appeared before the court.
“If he had any manners, he wouldn’t be here,” interjected Judge Gibbons. McDonagh had failed to appear at the July 20 sitting of Castlebar District Court because he got married that day, the court was told. Free legal aid was refused when McDonagh told the court that he had bought his car out of €30,000 he received in an injury claim.