Saturday 21 September 2019

Defendant dreams of being big rock star

A homeless man who dreams of being a rock star interrupted proceedings at Wexford District Court when his solicitor suggested those dreams were 'delusional'.

Conor O'Hagan, originally from Cork city and currently of no fixed abode, was brought to court by prison officers on Monday January 5. He had been remanded in custody at a special court sitting on the Saturday for the offence of stealing coffee and pastries - total value €4 - from a Wexford supermarket that day.

Decked out in dreadlocks, a black leather jacket, a Guns 'N' Roses tee-shirt and biker boots, he sat in court alongside his father, who had travelled from Cork that morning to offer support to the troubled son.

Solicitor John O'Donovan, assigned under the Free Legal Aid scheme, outlined several unusual circumstances. He said O'Hagan was homeless and hungry when he ate a bun in Pettitt's Supervalu at Key West in Wexford, and then left the store with a coffee and muffin he hadn't paid for. He went on to explain that his client suffers from a rare genetic syndrome, which he had never heard of himself and had to look up on Google. This condition can manifest itself in several ways, and in the case of O'Hagan, it had affected his learning ability in school, and also resulted in 'a very deluded sense of reality'.

'For example,' said Mr O'Donovan, 'he thinks he will become a great rock and roll star, with his guitar, even though his father says he can't even tune that guitar.'

O'Hagan interrupted that point, to announce: 'I write my own songs. And I did play the guitar. What's this about being deluded?'

'It's still a long way from that to being a great rock star,' Mr O'Donovan countered.

'When did I ever say that was going to happen?' O'Hagan then inquired.

His father was then heard to shush him, saying 'he (Mr O'Donovan) is just trying to help you'.

Mr O'Donovan also told the court that O'Hagan lives 'a very bohemian lifestyle', sleeping on couches in the homes of different friends, and finding it hard to remember where he's been or for how long.

He added that the defendant also has alcohol problems and 'is clearly in need of help', but submitted that the sort of help he needs would not be available to him in prison if the judge was considering a sentence in light of a number of previous convictions for other theft offences around County Cork.

Judge Haughton replied he had no intention of sending anybody to prison 'for stealing €4 worth of coffee and buns while homeless and penniless'.

He instead ordered a probation report, and remanded the defendant on his own bond of €100 to return to court on March 16.

A psychiatric report was also requested.

Wexford People