Judge gets tough on Portlaoise public order crimes

Mountmellick woman told to do voluntary work for trading insults in street

Judge gets tough on Portlaoise public order crimes

The people of Portlaoise are fed up with public order crimes, said Judge Catherine Staines, last week vowing to get tough on people who make a nuisance of themselves in public.

Her remarks came as she directed Fiona O’Callaghan (39), Patrick Street, Mountmellick, to do some voluntary work in her community as punishment for shouting in the street in an alleged dispute over stolen money.

Inspector Eamonn Curley gave evidence that on July 8 this year, the gardaí received a 999 call to attend at O’Moore Place, Portlaoise. There were around 50 people in the area, including children, and the accused was sitting in a parked vehicle shouting out the window at another person, trading insults.

She then got out of the car and attempted to run at the person, but the gardaí tried to hold her back. She became abusive towards the gardaí and was arrested.

She had 42 previous convictions.

Defence, Ms Josephine Fitzpatrick said her client was not proud of her actions.

On the day, she had been travelling with her friend and gave a lift to a third party, and when that party got out of the car it was discovered that €140 was missing.

Ms Fitzpatrick said that this behaviour was out of character for the accused. The accused previously had drug difficulties but is now on 95ml of methadone.

Defence went on to say that the accused has signed up to do a course in social studies to improve herself.

The accused had done community service before and would be willing to do more, said Ms Fitzpatrick.

Said Judge Catherine Staines to the accused: “How do you think the people in Portlaoise feel, if they’re out for a walk or to go to the shop and they have to hear you roaring and shouting?”

Replied the accused: “It’s not acceptable and I do apologise for how I acted.”

Judge Catherine Staines asked the probation officer, Ms Ann Walsh, whether the accused would be suitable for community service, but Ms Walsh replied she would not be due to the level of methadone she is on.

Judge Staines then suggested that the accused do some form of voluntary work, perhaps with the local Tidy Towns group.

Ms Fitzpatrick said her client would be willing.

Judge Staines said she had been considering a one-month prison sentence, as she had no doubt that the people of Portlaoise are fed up with public order offences of this nature. She said that she will be taking a serious view of such offences from now on.

“If she’s studying social studies she can study how to put something back into her community,” said Judge Staines.

The judge adjourned the matter to October 12, telling the accused to complete at least 50 hours' voluntary work for her community.