Sunday 25 February 2018

'You could've got a later bus,' judge tells man who missed sentencing

A High Court judge said Mervin White (35) could have caught a later bus (Stock Picture)
A High Court judge said Mervin White (35) could have caught a later bus (Stock Picture)

Tim Healy

A man described by a judge as "a veteran of the criminal justice system", has failed to have a two-month jail sentence for drunk and dangerous driving quashed - after claiming he should not have been sentenced because he missed the bus to court.

A High Court judge said Mervin White (35) could have caught a later bus.

He pleaded guilty on October 1, 2014, to drink and dangerous driving as well as having no insurance or driving licence.

White, of Lower Mallow Street, Limerick, had previously not turned up in the District Court on two occasions.

The sentencing judge accepted explanations that his partner was having a baby on the first, and that his sister was seriously ill on the second.

He claimed if he made it to court on the third time, he would have told the judge he was a recovering drug addict, that he was keeping out of trouble and was suitable for community service.

White, who has 35 previous convictions including one for a prior drink-driving offence, sought High Court orders quashing a District Court judge's two-month sentence imposed on him on December 10, 2014.

Mr Justice Max Barrett said his application must fail.

There were later buses from Limerick which he could have caught to bring him to court - and that sentencing had been put back to the afternoon of the third day to accommodate him, the judge said.

In his High Court challenge, it was argued the District Judge erred in law and should have issued a warrant for his arrest rather than sentencing in his absence.

Mr Justice Barrett said the reason given for not turning up in court the third time was "almost whimsical".

Previous case law never intended that the State should have to engage in a "game of 'catch me if you can'," he said.

Mr White did not seize repeated opportunities to put forward mitigating factors before sentencing, he said.

Irish Independent

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