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Friday, November 11, 2011
A JUDGE has criticised the "skewed" sentencing legislation in Ireland where he could only give six months to man for a 29th drink-driving offence while a woman got 10 months for stealing groceries.
At Mullingar District Court, Judge Seamus Hughes said the legislature must pay attention to comments made by the judiciary. He said he is calling on legislators to "look carefully at comments the courts make" as he described the range of sentencing available to judges as "totally skewed".
He was comparing the maximum 12-month sentence for theft with the maximum six-month sentence for drink driving and other road traffic offences.
When he heard yesterday that Margaret McDonagh of Flat 2, 136 North Circular Road, had been jailed at another court for 10 months for theft of groceries and would not be out of prison before September 2012, he referred to a case he’d heard the day before in Athlone.
Thomas Dodd, aged 57, of Foster St, Galway had appeared before him pleading guilty to his 29th incident of drink driving, but the maximum sentence the judge could impose was six months.
The judge expressed his frustration, and what he said must be the frustration of gardaí, at the limited range of sentencing in road traffic offences, noting that Mr Dodd, who lives in a hostel, had already received a 40-year disqualification when he appeared before him. He said prison governors seem to regard road traffic offences as "much less serious" than theft or assault and convicted persons seem to serve only two weeks of a maximum six-month sentence.
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