Judge wants safe refuge for paedophile

A judge said yesterday that he wanted “some safe refuge” outside prison for a convicted paedophile, Joseph O’Brien.

At Ennis District Court, Judge Patrick Durcan made his comment before ordering the release from custody of O’Brien.

O’Brien, aged 62, has been on remand in prison for the last month after his solicitor, John Casey, told the court earlier this month that tabloid interest in the case had made accommodation impossible for his client.

Mr Casey said yesterday that his new instructions from O’Brien were that he has some short-term accommodation available.

He said: “He is quite confident that if he is there, he will be able to arrange accommodation for himself.”

Judge Durcan earlier said he wanted to get the Bedford Row Family Project involved in the case.

In 2017, Judge Durcan provided €10,000 to the project from the court discretionary fund, or poor box, to help fund its activities.

“The reason why this court has made so much money available to the Bedford Row Centre is that we would have somebody to put a hand into a prison and to lead a prisoner out of prison to some place safely,” he said.

“That is what I want done for Mr O’Brien. I want that he is led from prison to some safe refuge.”

There was no representative from the Bedford Row Project in court yesterday.

Mr Casey said he would provide O’Brien’s new address to the gardaí and Judge Durcan directed that this be done as part of O’Brien’s obligations to inform gardaí of where he is staying.

Addressing O’Brien, Judge Durcan said: “You are aware of your obligations. We are not talking about bad things, we are just talking about rules that have to be kept.

“In other words if I can put to you like this, I have to have a driving licence to drive, that is a regulatory matter, I need insurance to drive, that is a regulatory matter. Likewise, you have to keep in touch with gardaí for particular reasons I don’t want to go into here.”

Releasing O’Brien from custody, Judge Durcan said: “Don’t come back, Mr O’Brien, please.”

He said O’Brien “is free to go today”.

O’Brien spent almost four weeks on remand in jail after handing himself into gardaí on December 27.

Earlier this month, Mr Casey told Judge Durcan that O’Brien was willing to take a jail sentence for breaching the terms of a suspended four-month jail term by not informing gardaí of a change of address.

Judge Durcan stated: “The answer isn’t that this man is left in prison so that basically the media can’t get at him there.

“I am not disposed to having this man locked up any further... I don’t want to see Mr O’Brien unnecessarily locked up.”

At Ennis District Court

on December 22 last, Judge Durcan issued a bench warrant for O’Brien’s arrest after he went missing following front-page press coverage of his case.

A condition of the suspended jail term was that O’Brien have no direct contact with children after a report on him stated that he had a high risk of re-offending.


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