Sentencing a Mountmellick man to three months in prison for his part in the recent disturbance outside Portlaoise Courthouse, Judge Catherine Staines last week declared: “There has to be order in society and on the streets of Portlaoise.”
The judge said that the administration of justice is one of the most important aspects of the State’s democracy, and she condemned the very serious incident that recently occurred outside the courthouse following the sentencing of three members of the Travelling community.
Arising from the incident, before the recent sitting of the district court in Portlaoise was John Nevin, with an address at 21 Grove Park, Mountmellick.
He was charged with being intoxicated in a public place, and using threatening or abusive behaviour, at Main Street, Portlaoise, on February 5 this year.
Inspector Maria Conway gave evidence that a public order incident took place outside the courthouse on the day.
The gardaí approached the defendant and he became very aggressive and refused to move on when directed. Nevin also refused to give his name to the gardaí, and was intoxicated, the inspector said.
“When the gardaí requested his name he tried to get away,” said Insp Conway.
Nevin had 32 previous convictions, including public order offences in 2012 and a conviction for threatening or abusive behaviour in 2011.
Defence for Nevin was solicitor, Mr Philip Meagher.
He told the court that when the gardaí arrived on the scene Nevin was walking away.
“He was attempting to distance himself from what was happening,” said Mr Meagher. “He got agitated on the day, following a discussion between himself and a cousin who had been involved in a court case that day.
“He should have conducted himself better,” continued Mr Meagher, going on to say that Nevin’s “better judgement was clouded by having drink taken” on the day of the incident.
Mr Meagher said that his client, a married man with six children, wished to apologise for his actions on the day.
“It was a flash in the pan incident that he didn’t deal with very well,” concluded defence.
In her ruling, Judge Staines said: “The administration of justice is one of the most important aspects of our democracy. This was a very serious incident that spilled out onto the street.”
The judge noted that Nevin had 32 previous convictions, he had been intoxicated on the day and got himself involved in a dispute, and when he was told to move along by the gardaí he became abusive.
The judge imposed three months in prison. Mr Meagher asked would she consider suspending the sentence, to which Judge Staines declared: “No, this is too serious. There has to be order in society and on the streets of Portlaoise.”
Judge Staines fixed recognisance in the event of an appeal.