Saturday 18 January 2020

Man gets bail after judge said: 'I'll spit you out'

Tim Healy

A MAN is to be released from custody after a district judge refused to give him bail and allegedly told him he would "swallow him up and spit him out".

Judge Sean MacBride also told John Gavin he was "mentally and psychologically superior" to him and would "put manners" on his solicitor, it was claimed.

Mr Gavin brought a successful High Court challenge to the lawfulness of his detention after he was remanded in custody at Castlerea Prison last week by Judge MacBride at Virginia District Court in Co Cavan.

His lawyers sought an inquiry under Article 40.4.2 of the Constitution into the legality of his detention arguing that the Judge's comments were biased against Mr Gavin.

The judge, it was claimed, did not consider the bail application in a fair manner.

On those grounds, it was argued, that his detention was unlawful.

At the High Court, Mr Justice George Birmingham, who ordered an inquiry into Mr Gavin's detention, was informed that the State was consenting to Mr Gavin's release on bail.

It was also agreed Mr Gavin's case would not be heard by Judge MacBride.

Mr Gavin of Moyne Park, Baldoyle, Dublin, was charged with the theft of a caravan and theft of a wheel brace.

In an affidavit, his solicitor Joseph Coonan said his client attended the sitting of the court before Judge MacBride. When the matter was called he addressed the court without realising he had one hand in his pocket.

He said that on seeing this, the judge said: "How dare you speak to me like that, have you anything to say for yourself." Mr Coonan did not know that the judge was referring to his hand being in his pocket.

The judge continued: "How dare you speak to me with your hand in your pocket? I'll hold you in contempt of court. I will rise for five minutes." The judge ordered a garda inspector to escort him into his chambers, where Mr Coonan said he apologised to the judge.

The judge, he said, replied: "I am a Donegal man and we don't suffer fools, there was another practitioner who spoke to me like that in Donegal and I put manners him and I am going to put manners on you too."

Mr Coonan was then escorted back to court. When Mr Gavin's case was called, gardai objected to bail.

When Mr Gavin was being sworn in, the judge stated: "I want an armed member of An Garda Siochana between me and the accused at all times and in future, Mr Coonan added.

Mr Gavin took the bible and held it with both hands to his forehead before taking the oath. Mr Coonan said other clients of his have done this as a gesture of solemnity.

He said the judge stated: "Do not desecrate the bible like that take the oath correctly," adding "you've no respect for religion or the court, I'll swallow you up and spit you out".

Mr Coonan said the judge was smiling down at Mr Gavin, making him uncomfortable. He said Mr Gavin asked the judge why he was laughing at him. The judge, Mr Coonan said, replied he was "staring at you just to sicken you and to show you that I am mentally and psychologically superior to you".

In his ruling Judge MacBride refused bail, stating the court's "hands were tied" because Mr Gavin had admitted he was on bail at the time that the serious offence was allegedly committed.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News