independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Former garda involved in high-profile appeals

A former garda turned judge has made headlines in recent months following a number of high-profile appeals of sentences he has handed down.

The Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) has moved to set aside the maximum six-year sentence Circuit Court Judge Martin Nolan gave to food importer Paul Begley for not paying €1.6m tax in a garlic import duty scam.

Judge Nolan (52), who was appointed to the bench more than six years ago, would deal with a vast volume of work on the criminal list in the busy Circuit Court.

Judge Nolan is hearing cases in the Family Courts, where he will be dealing with matters such as marriage separations, this term.

The President of the Circuit Court routinely assigns the moveable judges to a different post each term.

Criminal

Judge Nolan, who lists his interests as history and politics, was educated at Glenbrien National School in Wexford and in Enniscorthy CBS. He later played both minor hurling and football for Wexford.

He joined An Garda Siochana in 1979, and he remained a member of the force until 1989. He opted for a different career path after studying to be a barrister and was then called to the Bar.

Before being appointed to the bench, he worked on the south-eastern courts circuit for more than 15 years as a barrister in a mixed practice that included criminal, tort and family law.

Last October, victims' rights groups called for guidelines and raised concerns about sentencing after Judge Nolan suspended the sentence of a sex attacker on a number of conditions, including the payment of €15,000 to his 17-year-old victim.

Both the Rape Crisis networks and sexual abuse support groups were critical of the decision, saying it delivered the wrong message.

Last March, the same month Mr Begley was sentenced, the mother of a juvenile sentenced to six years for a violent burglary verbally criticised Judge Nolan in court.

Irish Independent

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