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Garda-turned-judge is used to controversy

A FORMER garda now turned judge finds himself in the eye of a growing public storm over sentencing guidelines.

Circuit Court Judge Martin Nolan hit the headlines earlier this year when he jailed a food importer for six years for not paying €1.6m in garlic taxes.

Judge Nolan (52) joined An Garda Siochana in 1979 and remained a member of the force until 1989. He then decided to study at Kings Inn to be a barrister and was called to the Bar.

He worked for more than 15 years on the south-eastern circuit in a mixed practice before being appointed as a judge more than six years ago.

In March, he presided over a case in which the court was told that Paul Begley (46), of Begley Brothers in Blanchardstown, Dublin, had evaded paying duty on more than 1,000 tonnes of garlic.

Imposing the sentence, Judge Nolan said he gave him "no joy at all to jail a decent man" but that Begley had engaged in a "huge" tax-evasion scheme.

That same month, the mother of a juvenile sentenced to six years for a violent burglary screamed at the judge that he had earlier handed down a lighter sentence to a child abuser.

As she was arrested for contempt and was being escorted to the cells, the woman shouted to Judge Nolan that he "gave a pervert four years for raping children".

Some months later, the judge presided over another case in which a man was given a suspended three-year sentence for assaulting a woman on condition that he paid one of his victims €12,000.

Two other charges of assault causing harm to two other women were taken into consideration.

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