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Lost in translation: Case thrown out due to poor interpreter


A charge of theft against a Latvian native has been thrown out of court after his interpreter was deemed by the judge to have poor English.
Andris Kumacevs with an address of 39, Chesnut Grove, Castlebar, was charged with the theft of €18.20 worth of goods from Dunnes Stores in Castlebar. He appeared before Castlebar District Court on Wednesday last where an interpreter was set to be sworn in to translate court proceedings from English into Latvian.
However, upon taking the oath to translate fully and accurately, Mr Kumacevs’ appointed translator struggled to repeat the oath read by the court clerk in English.
The matter was put back and Judge Mary Devins was informed the interpreter was from an agency whom the Courts Service hire for interpreters.
Judge Devins said ‘it was obvious to me she did not speak good English’ and questioned the appointment and the process in general.
Inspector Gary Walsh asked for a second chance to be given to the interpreter as it was her first time in court.
Judge Devins said the interpreter should not be sent to court if she was not capable of repeating the oath in English and criticised the expense of the case.
She said Irish fees for translation services were among the highest in the European Union and described the situation as ‘completely unsatisfactory’.
She argued the case ‘must have cost the State thousands’ compared to the €18.20 theft involved. Inspector Walsh said stores want such cases to be prosecuted to which Judge Devins replied ‘An Garda Siochána are not a private police force employed by stores’.
She said she was striking out the case ‘in the interests of fairness and natural justice’.