Thursday 23 November 2017

Beggar faces bill of €50,000 as legal bid fails

Jason O'Brien and Tim Healy

A BEGGAR who had her challenge to a public order conviction dismissed as "preposterous" yesterday is to appeal despite facing a €50,000 legal bill.

Carmen Ilie (20), a native of Romania with an address at Cabra Park, Phibsboro, Dublin, was convicted of wilfully obstructing a female passerby in the city centre late at night.

Mr Justice John Hedigan told the High Court yesterday the judicial review proceedings on behalf of Ilie were "unstateable" given the evidence. The evidence was that a garda saw Ilie grab on to the handbag of a pedestrian on Aston Quay.

This was a wilful interference with the rights of citizens to travel freely on their own streets and the case should never have been brought, Mr Justice Hedigan said yesterday.

He awarded costs to the DPP against Ilie and lifted the stay on her conviction and fine which was in place pending the outcome of the High Court case. He also refused to put a stay on his order pending any appeal to the Supreme Court.

However, the Irish Independent understands that Ilie will appeal the decision.


"It's a civil rights action. Is she going to pay for it? No, she'll never pay for it," a source said.

"Even if she loses the case she'll probably get a €50,000 bill but they'll never collect because she doesn't have it."

Legal sources said last night that the State could bring an order for security for costs ahead of any appeal, which would require Ilie to prove she can pay.

The case arose from a decision by District Court Judge Mary Collins in December 2009 to convict Ilie after she admitted blocking a person's free passage on August 22, 2009.

Judge Collins sentenced Ilie to be bound to the peace on condition she stay outside the Temple Bar area. After Ilie refused to enter into that bond, the judge imposed a €200 fine.

Judge Collins also said she was tired of beggars who "obstruct, harass and impede pedestrians".

She said she had personal experience of her way being impeded and had rarely seen peaceful begging.

Lawyers for Ilie later brought a judicial review challenge and it was argued a person has a constitutional right to beg.

However, Mr Justice Hedigan ruled that the decision by Judge Collins was the "only conceivable" decision any judge could have made and she was "absolutely right" in refusing to refer the matter to the High Court.

Irish Independent

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