Thursday 21 February 2019

Storm in a T-shirt as slogan lands punk dad in jail

SHIRTY: Above, Lorraine Fitzpatrick shows the offending T-shirt. Below, Judge Connellan. Photo: Crispin Rodwell
SHIRTY: Above, Lorraine Fitzpatrick shows the offending T-shirt. Below, Judge Connellan. Photo: Crispin Rodwell

DANIEL McCONNELL FOR many, it is an iconic image of the Seventies' punk music scene, instantly recognisable to music lovers everywhere. But for others, it is a byword for anarchy and loutishness.

And when Judge Murrough Connellan saw a defendant appearing before him at Bray District Court, wearing a Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks T-shirt, he was far from amused.

He asked defendant Philip Dunleavy whether he had a good reason for wearing it, and the man replied that he did not. Judge Connellan then ordered gardai to remove Dunleavy, who is the father of an eight-year-old girl, to Cloverhill Prison for seven days, to think about his attire.

This weekend, as Dunleavy languishes in prison, politicians and legal experts have described his incarceration as extreme and unusual.

And Dunleavy's partner has said that he had immediately wanted to change out of the offending garment, into a plain blue shirt and to purge his contempt, but he was not given an opportunity.

Lorraine Fitzpatrick told the Sunday Independent: "I had to explain why daddy is being taken away by the gardai for wearing a T-shirt."

She added: "Philip would have been happy to apologise to the judge for wearing the T-shirt, and his solicitor asked the judge twice to re-hear the case but he was refused. He didn't think the T-shirt of one of his favourite bands would cause any offence."

Judge Connellan jailed Dunleavy (33), with an address at Oldcourt Drive in Bray, for contempt, on Friday.

Dunleavy had appeared in Bray District Court on charges of shoplifting from Woodies DIY store in Bray. He was wearing the infamous yellow T-shirt, designed by Vivienne Westwood, which reads: "Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols."

Ms Fitzpatrick said yesterday that she received a phone call from Mr Dunleavy, after the judge's sentencing, and she went straight to her home to pick up a plain blue T-shirt "for him to wear back into court to apologise".

"However, the judge refused to let him in so he'll be inside until Friday. He had my money on him, so I've been left short, but luckily I have family helping us out.

"But the whole thing is upsetting for me, but particularly our eight-year-old daughter."

Fine Gael justice spokesman Jim O'Keeffe described it as extreme, "especially as an attempt was made to purge his contempt".

He said: "The courts are independent from political influence, but if something can be done to get this man out, I would hope some lawyer can lodge an appeal to the appropriate superior court."

Neither the Department of Justice or Minister Michael McDowell offered any comment on the case, saying it is purely a matter for the courts.

Legal experts commenting on the case have said that Judge Connellan was perfectly within his rights to send Mr Dunleavy to jail, as he felt he was in contempt in the face of the court.

Other instances of contempt in recent times have included mobile phones going off in court, or people swearing in court.

However, the refusal by the judge to allow Mr Dunleavy to purge his contempt has been described by leading lawyers as "somewhat unusual".

Mr Dunleavy will reappear in court on Friday after spending seven days behind bars at Cloverhill Prison.

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