Cork man refused to travel to UK for drug treatment because of fear of Covid-19 test

Anthony McInerney was jailed for 60 days for trespassing, after a judge said he was wasting the time of the Probation Service.
Cork man refused to travel to UK for drug treatment because of fear of Covid-19 test

A technician shows a nasal swab. Picture: AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias

A man who failed to travel to the UK for a drug-treatment programme, because of a fear of undergoing a Covid-19 test, has received a jail sentence for trespass, after a judge said he was wasting the time of the Probation Service.

Anthony McInerney, 28, pleaded with Judge John King not to send him to prison and appealed the 60-day sentence.

The original charge against Mr McInerney was for trespass, when he was found, with others, inside an unoccupied building in Bantry on June 30 last year.

Mr McInerney, originally from Bantry, had previously undertaken to engage with the Probation Service and to tackle his addiction problems. Both he and his solicitor, Ray Hennessy, said this had been complicated by Mr McInerney being homeless for a time and sleeping in a tent on Gratten St in Cork City. The court heard that, only recently, Mr McInerney had secured lodgings in a B&B on the Western Road in Cork City.

The court heard a matter was being re-entered at the circuit court, because Mr McInerney had not co-operated with the Probation Service. Mr McInerney was asked if he had attended at a residential treatment centre in Nottingham, but he said he had not, because of the need for a Covid-19 test and a fear of the nasal swab.

"I was more nervous about getting that thing into my nose than going to Nottingham," he said.

He told Judge King another option had "gone sideways" and that he had developed "alcohol-induced epilepsy" and was attending AA meetings on Zoom.

He said that with improvements in his housing situation, "I am starting to see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel."

"I black out every day," he said. "I can’t remember half my life.

"Sometimes, I get seizures and if I don't get alcohol into my system, I get seizures." 

The judge said the probation report before the court was "not favourable".

"He is going around the place in a fool's paradise, thinking this is going to work out on its own," Judge King said.

The judge said there was one issue, that of Mr McInerney's addiction, and that he was clearly not dealing with it.

Mr McInerney's last contact with the Probation Service was on November 13 last.

"You are leaving me with no alternative," the judge said.

"I will do anything," Mr McInerney responded, saying he would sign on at a Garda station and observe a curfew.

"These are promises you have made before," Judge King said.

On being sentenced to 60 days in prison, Mr McInerney said, "Oh my God." 

An appeal was lodged on his own bond of €300, no cash required.

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