AN assault case in the Circuit Court was delayed for almost half a day recently due to the “technical issue” of video equipment necessary to play State’s evidence not being properly set up, with Judge Tony Hunt likening the situation to “(leaving) Harvey Norman’s with a toaster without a plug on it”.
In the case heard in Portlaoise Circuit Court last Tuesday, State Prosecutor Mr Desmond Dockery informed Judge Hunt that DVDs containing CCTV footage central to the State’s case could not be read by the audio-video system present in court.
The equipment being used to play the discs was provided by a private contractor as Portlaoise Courthouse is not fitted out with its own system and Mr Dockery said that an engineer was on his way down from the company in Naas to deal with the problem.
“I haven’t seen the footage, and I would prefer to see it before opening the case to the jury,” he said, asking the judge to delay beginning the trial for at least an hour.
“This is absolutely incomprehensible,” declared Judge Hunt. “Last week, I specifically asked everyone to be here at 9.30 and for all equipment to be set up and ready to go. This is going to waste a considerable amount of money.”
Judge Hunt said that the “cock up” would cost thousands of Euros, although he laid the blame at the feet of the private contractor.
“I read all the time about wastes of money in the public sector, but this doesn’t say much for the private sector, this company is employed to set up equipment which can be operated by a student,” the judge said.
He also remarked that just the previous week he had been involved in a case where a garda with a laptop had easily played footage in court.
“This is pretty much half a day gone, there are 12 people sitting around in there doing nothing who are here at their own expense. This is not a public sector cock up, for once it lies elsewhere,” he said.
When the State was finally ready to proceed and the jury were brought in, Judge Hunt apologised to the 12 men and women for the “technical issue” and again remarked he could not understand how such a thing had happened.
“You wouldn’t leave Harvey Norman’s with a toaster without a plug on it,” he observed.