A JUDGE has said he needs to "reconsider his position" in sentencing a cash-strapped garda who stole a motor tax disc from his superior's office.
Judge Hugh O'Donnell adjourned the case after garda authorities would not give assurances that no future disciplinary action would be taken against Garda Damien Dempsey.
The judge had sought the undertaking at Dublin District Court because he believed the situation amounted to "double jeopardy" for Dempsey. He thought this was "unfair and unjust" after a criminal prosecution had been brought.
The accused (44) was found guilty last week of stealing the tax disc from files at the community police sergeant's office in Tallaght on a date between July 12, 2012 and April 23, 2013. He was under severe financial pressure following his marriage break-up, and put the disc on his own private Lexus, which was parked outside the office.
He was also found guilty of fraudulent use of a tax disc and of using a car without insurance.
He had denied those charges but admitted a related count of having no tax on the car.
Judge O'Donnell had previously said he would strike all proceedings out if internal garda disciplinary action was taken against the accused.
However, when the case came back before the court, State Solicitor Maire Crowley said the gardai would not be giving the undertaking sought by the judge. She said the Garda Commissioner only made decisions on future disciplinary proceedings after criminal prosecutions were finished.
On the issue of double jeopard, she said disciplinary matters were not to be equated legally with court proceedings.
"I understand where you are coming from, but I made my views clear," the judge said.
He said he would not strike the charges out, but added: "I want to reconsider the whole affair." He adjourned the case to November 11.
At the earlier hearing, the court was told the disc had been issued for a garda motorcycle and Dempsey took it from a file at Sergeant Ronan Lawlor's office. He put it on his Lexus, which was left parked outside the office when he put the disc on it. It was seen on his car and investigating officers eventually found it in a bin.
Dempsey admitted in an interview that he knew he had done wrong and it was a "stupid act" but it "never entered his head" that it was theft. The investigation hit him "like a tonne of bricks".
Dempsey had told the court his wife left him three years ago with a mortgage and loans of €2,500 per month.
He had bought the Lexus in "the good times" and then "couldn't get rid of it".
Dempsey insisted he never intended to keep the disc.