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Friday, October 07, 2011
THERE is no deterrent to crime in this country, a judge has warned.
Judge Seamus Hughes at Mullingar District Court said it is becoming "glaringly obvious" to him that "a horse and cart" is being driven through sentencing by "unaccountable" people in the prison service.
These people are "fully supported by mandarins in the Department of Justice" because there is no proper penal system in place, he added, as he heard a man he jailed for six months in September was granted temporary release just two weeks into his sentence.
Describing Kaspars Matvejevs, of Ardilaun Green, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, as a serial offender, he said "there is no deterrent in this country whatsoever".
On September 14, he heard how the father of three had no insurance and was disqualified when he was caught driving in May last year. He has been convicted twice since that date of having no insurance.
Noting his "flagrant disregard for Irish law", the judge then jailed him for six months.
Yesterday, Matvejevs appeared before him again at Mullingar District Court, pleading guilty to stealing more than €3,400 from the Department of Social Protection between May and July this year by claiming social welfare of €342.60 per week using the card of a friend who had returned to Latvia.
He sent that friend €150 weekly and kept the rest.
Before being reminded that he had jailed Matvejevs just three weeks ago, the judge was considering a nine-month sentence to send out a strong message to those contemplating similar social welfare theft.
However afterwards, he questioned the value of "a hard message" if people jailed for six months are released after two weeks.
The judge jailed Matvejevs for six months, saying he was depriving needy people whose payments had been reduced or abolished because of the straitened economic situation.
He expressed concern that the work of the Road Safety Authority, gardaí and courts in dealing with serial road traffic offenders had been undermined by Matvejevs’ release.
"The governor of the Midlands Prison decides to let him out, no doubt with no regret, and Gay Byrne and all the other head honchos in the RSA are encouraging people to do the right thing on the roads."
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