‘Mind-boggling difficulties’ predicted over court fines

Mind-boggling difficulties were predicted by a judge yesterday for the abolition from Monday of prison sentences being a default for non-payment of court fines.

Judge Leo Malone imposed a €300 fine on a man for engaging in threatening behaviour and then, for the last time, said the accused would have to serve 15 days in prison in default of payment of the fine in five months.

“That is the last day of default imprisonment,” Judge Malone said at Cork District Court.

The routine system in the courts for many years has been the imposition of a fine for an offence followed by setting out the time allowed for payment of the fine, and then the amount of time in prison in default of payment.

Judge Malone referred to the scenarios that would arise where fines were imposed and not paid which would, as a result of the legislation coming into effect on Monday, result in cases having to be re-entered in court, and the consideration of community service and other options, he said.

“The mind boggles at the difficulties that will come,” he said yesterday.

The judge was dealing with a case where the accused appeared by video link from prison. Colin O’Callaghan, aged 25, of 8 St Colman’s Place, Cloyne, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to charges of engaging in threatening behaviour and being drunk and a source of danger.

Insp Bill Duane said on July 26, 2015, Garda Shane Halligan was arresting a woman when O’Callaghan started roaring and shouting abuse. Despite being told to go home, he continued to be abusive to gardaí.

Daithí Ó Donnabháin, defence solicitor, said the accused was presently serving a sentence in prison and doing well. The solicitor said the accused’s employment was being kept open for him on release from prison.


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