A 70-year-old man who was observed masturbating in a public place avoided being sentenced to prison at last week’s court due to numerous medical complaints.
George Dobson, Mountrath Road, Portlaoise, was charged with threatening or abusive behaviour, at Lyster Square, Portlaoise, on January 6 this year.
Inspector Maria Conway gave evidence that Dobson was observed masturbating at 8.45am in a public place.
“Two ladies got an extreme fright,” said Insp Conway, adding that Dobson “was well known to them”.
The incident meant Dobson had breached a suspended sentence for a similar conviction imposed in May last year.
Defence, Ms Josephine Fitzpatrick acknowledged that the court had a very real concern about the matter. She said the court had given Dobson a chance before, and the new offence he was facing was very serious.
“On the day, the behaviour he was participating in was ongoing, it wasn’t for the benefit of people, they came upon it,” said Ms Fitzpatrick.
“This behaviour just isn’t acceptable,” declared Judge Catherine Staines. “I gave him a suspended sentence and he’s breached it.”
Judge Staines said the offence deserved a custodial sentence, but after reading a report on the defendant, she noted that he suffered with manic depressive disorder, was bipolar, and had been diagnosed with lung cancer. In those circumstances, the judge said she would not send him to prison.
“I’m going to fine you on this occasion, but if this happens again, no matter how ill you are, I have to protect the public,” Judge Staines warned him.
Dobson was fined €100.