Saturday 20 January 2018

Gun thief ordered to paint picture of judge's courtroom

Finian Coghlan

A BUDDING artist who stole two shotguns has been told to paint a picture of the courtroom, judge and solicitors -- or do community service.

Judge Seamus Hughes admitted he was "not unknown to make interesting decisions" as he handed the instruction to Keith Hand (20), of Clonminch, Tullamore, Co Offaly.

Hand broke into the home of his girlfriend's neighbour at Ballycumber, Co Offaly, on February 2 and stole the weapons, a number of shotgun shells, a fishing rod, two bottles of whiskey and a bodhran.

Solicitor Brian O'Brien told Athlone District Court his client was "a talented young man and wants to be an artist".

Hand had his portfolio with him and the judge asked to see it, before telling Mr O'Brien: "I want him to make a court sketch, particularly of the practitioners -- you know, the type you'd see at a murder trial. I'm very serious."

"They can usually take up to 10 hours," said Mr O'Brien.

"Well, I can give (your client) 240 hours (the maximum community service order)," replied the judge, adding: "He (the defendant) strikes me as a good young decent man and that this was out of character. It can be a Christmas present for the local practitioners."

Last month saw Pavee Point calling for Judge Hughes's resignation after he referred to members of the Traveller community as "Neanderthals lying in the long grass, living by the laws of the jungle".

He made the comments in the case of Martin Stokes, who was convicted of threatening to burn a neighbour out.

After convicting Stokes of a number of farm thefts in 2011, Judge Hughes said: "It takes a Mayo man to put an end to that sort of thing. I'm not talking about myself. I'm talking about the venerable Padraig Nally."


Mr Nally was acquitted of the manslaughter of Traveller John Ward after shooting him on his Co Mayo farm in October 2004.

In September 2010 in Donegal, Judge Hughes suggested that a local man convicted of abusing a garda climb Croagh Patrick to reflect on his position.

When Joseph McElwee returned to court, he did so with nearly €3,000 he had raised for the court's poor box.

Irish Independent

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