Judge criticises early release of convicted burglars
Judges are receiving widespread criticism for not putting burglars in prison but, when they do hand down sentences, the offenders are released long before serving their full terms.
That was the view of Judge Gerard Haughton as he found Paddy Connors (37) of Ozanam House, Green Street, Wexford was back in circulation much sooner than he expected.
The long term heroin user was before the District Court in Ardcavan on December 1, facing two charges of possessing cannabis in April and May, in each case valued at €10.
A third charge, again involving a tenner's worth of the drug, dated back to November of last year.
The court was told that Connors had 56 previous convictions on his record, including 12 for possessing illicit drugs.
The list also included a nine month sentence imposed in December for theft and burglary, while a further six month sentence was incurred in February.
'What am I doing here?' the judge wondered out loud when it emerged that Connors was back home from jail within a couple of months of being sentenced.
The court system was being pilloried for not sending offenders to prison, he pointed out, with judges accused in sections of the media of not doing their job or of not taking it seriously.
'We are easy targets,' he complained, pointing out that he and his colleagues do not hold the keys of the prisons and telling Connors: 'I did not let you out in April.'
The defendant, described by his solicitor as homeless, responded that he had a lot of problems and that he had buried his girlfriend six months ago after she died of an overdose.
The defendant said that he had cleaned up his act and not gone back to his old ways, saying that he would become a recluse if he could find somewhere to live.
Judge Haughton stressed that his remarks were not directed at the defendant personally.
After their brief conversation, judge and offender parted amicably once three convictions and three fines of €100 were added to the record.
'Thanks, your honour,' said Paddy Connors as he left the courtroom.