Legal aid revoked for defendants 'on holiday'
A JUDGE has revoked free legal aid for a number of defendants after they went on holiday instead of appearing in court.
About half a dozen accused people who had been granted free legal aid, failed to appear before Judge Eugene O'Kelly at Limerick District Court.
After being told why the defendants were not in court, Judge O'Kelly said: "This is entirely unacceptable. The State is put under enormous expense to provide persons with legal aid, and it is not intended to facilitate people going on foreign holidays.
"People appear to be going on vacation, which they are entitled to do, but there are lots of taxpayers who are funding the legal aid scheme who cannot afford to go on vacation and who are very hard-pressed to make ends meet," he added.
Among the cases were that of William Harty (25), of Clonmacken Road, Limerick, who was due before the court on a charge of possession of a knife and three screwdrivers, which it is alleged he intended to use during the course of a theft on May 9.
The court heard that Mr Harty had gone on a foreign holiday two days after he successfully applied for legal aid.
"He applied for legal aid here before, on the basis that his income was €188 per week. This man has gone on holiday when the taxpayer and the State are footing his legal costs. Two days previously he made an application for the State to pick up his legal bill," said Judge Kelly.
The court was told Mr Harty, his partner and three young children were on holiday abroad. His solicitor, Sarah Ryan, said she was not aware he was going on a foreign holiday two days after she applied for legal aid on his behalf.
Judge O'Kelly revoked Mr Harty's legal aid and ordered a bench warrant for his arrest. He also issued bench warrants and revoked legal aid for several other accused persons who failed to appear.