Penance for garda insult is to climb Croagh Patrick
A DISTRICT Court judge has told a man who called a garda a 'Mayo w**ker' he has a month to travel to make the Croagh Patrick pilgrimage.
The unusual suggestion by the judge came at Milford District Court in Co Donegal where Judge Seamus Hughes told Joseph McElwee (38), of Aughavennan, Rathmullan, he was to do the four stations of the famous Mayo pilgrimage as a mark of respect for his fellow Irish people, especially those in the line of duty.
McElwee was charged with threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour, intoxication, disorderly conduct, wilful obstruction and failing to comply with the direction of a garda, to which he pleaded guilty. However, the judge has yet to pass sentence and will deal with it on October 11.
Last night a legal expert said while judges can make suggestions as to ways in which defendants can show their remorse, such unusual proposals, such as climbing Croagh Patrick, are unenforceable under law.
"It does seem a bizarre suggestion, but it's not unprecedented," one legal source explained.
"It's a somewhat more unusual variation of a theme, like paying out to a court poor box or a local charity. It isn't a penalty, just a suggestion that you should do something to show you're truly sorry."
While Judge Hughes has presided over Donegal District Court for less than a year, his occasionally unusual ideas have already attracted attention.
The Mayo man, a Fianna Fail TD between 1992 and 1997, began presiding over District Court proceedings last October.
He often asks defendants who have pleaded guilty to show their regret for their actions by taking part in community charity groups, before deciding what legal penalty to hand down.
In the court case, Judge Hughes had heard how the defendant was part of a group of three who approached two gardai outside a pub in Rathmullan and began verbally abusing them on March 28.
The court heard that McElwee called Garda Nicholas Freyne a 'Mayo w**ker' and said 'f*** off home to Mayo'.
Solicitor Kieran O'Gorman said his client had never been in bother before and had personally apologised to the garda.