Tuesday 20 March 2018

Judge says no one can be proud after death of alcoholic who lived in toilet

Judge Patrick Durcan: raised plight of Josef Pavelka
Judge Patrick Durcan: raised plight of Josef Pavelka

Gordon Deegan

A judge told a court yesterday that nobody here could be proud of the life Josef Pavelka had in lreland despite the man's self-inflicted problems.

Last month, Judge Patrick Durcan brought Mr Pavelka's plight to national attention when he described the 52-year-old Czech's sleeping in a public toilet in Ennis as a "scandal".

A chronic alcoholic, Mr Pavelka remained homeless and his dead body was found in a laneway in the town last Saturday night.

Mr Pavelka was due to appear at Ennis District Court yesterday concerning a public order charge from last week and when his name was called, Judge Durcan said: "This is the man that came before us and the case achieved a lot of notoriety.

"I simply want to say again that in a modern democracy where someone ends up sleeping up in a public toilet, that is and will always be a scandal."

He added: "There is a duty to ensure that in our society, irrespective of the financial difficulties we have, a basic level of care is available to all."


Ennis Town Council stated that it had no evidence that anyone was sleeping in its superloos.

Judge Durcan said: "I am concerned to note that there were denials issued concerning that this man wasn't living in those conditions. The reality is this. Despite his difficulties and despite his self-inflicted problems and despite his inability to deal with those problems, this man's life in this country was something that nobody here can be proud of.

"This man appeared in court when required and it really is shamefully sad that he died in (such) circumstances.

He added: "Out of all the bad stories, good stories may come of them – (let it be hoped) that it may alert everyone to help those institutions, public and private, who care for people.

"The last time the gentleman was here, we reflected on the fact that he had become a celebrity. That in itself was a reflection on the generosity of the wonderful people of this county.

He added: "One of the poignant things about this case, I can still see him sitting down there in the court and he struck me as a most kindly gentleman."

Mr Pavelka's solicitor, Daragh Hassett, told Judge Durcan: "Mr Pavelka had his own difficulties we are all aware of. He was a gentleman in every regard.

"We hoped that that he would be housed and the chaos in his life would be removed. Unfortunately, it didn't happen in time."

Inspector Tom Kennedy said that Mr Pavelka was "always easy to deal with and never presented any difficulty to gardai and our concerns were for his own safety".

The inspector confirmed that contact has been made with Mr Pavelka's family to inform them of his death and details concerning the repatriation of his body.

Irish Independent

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