Man writes essay on court sittings as part of appeal

A young man appealing a drugs conviction returned to court with a 200-word essay on his observations from attending four of his local district court sittings.

Judge Gerard O’Brien, who set the special assignment for appellant Raymond Watkins, aged 22, of Cathedral Road, Gurranabraher, Cork, said yesterday after reading the young man’s essay: “I am very impressed with his observations on what he saw in court.”

The judge said it was not to be taken as a precedent but he would give the accused the benefit of a dismissal under the Probation of Offenders Act.

Judge O’Brien said he appreciated that young people had a different view of drug-taking and that many of the defendant’s friends may take drugs but he was the one who was caught.

Paula McCarthy, defending, said after handing in the essay to the judge that he had documented his observations on four court sittings which he was required to attend.

She said he was remorseful for the offence. Sgt John Sheehy confirmed the young man had not come to the attention of gardaí since this drug detection or before it. The sergeant said the man was co-operative and respectful to gardaí.

Judge Gerard O’Brien said every judge in the country must be blue in the face from telling young people about the scourge of drugs in society. And he came up with the innovative order on the young man to make these visits to his local district court and to write the short essay on drugs in Irish society.

Watkins was appealing the conviction and €250 fine he got at Cork District Court after he was caught in possession of ecstasy tablets for his own use at Cathedral Road, Cork, on July 8, 2016. He was convicted and fined for having the drug, formally known as MDMA, for his own use on that occasion.

The appellant was concerned about having a drug conviction as it could stand against him in the course of future plans to study and work abroad. He is presently based in Thurles. He attended at Thurles District Court on four separate occasions and then wrote the essay which was not read out in court. It was handed to the judge through his registrar prior to the sitting of Cork Circuit Appeals Court.


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