Thursday 14 November 2019

Man who had stand-off with judge is released


Oliver Sludds leaving the High Court. Credit: Picture:PaddyCummins
Oliver Sludds leaving the High Court. Credit: Picture:PaddyCummins

A COUNTY Wexford man who was remanded in custody at Wexford District Court last week following a stand-off with a judge over his identity walked free on Friday following an order by the High Court.

Oliver Sludds (29), of Tinteskin, Kilmuckridge, and formerly of Ballagh Cove, Ballaghkeen Enniscorthy, appeared before Judge David Anderson at Wexford District Court last Wednesday in connection with alleged motoring offences in April and May 2010.

Mr Sludds rejected the name given to him on district court documents – Bobby Oliver Sludds – as 'a fiction made up by the Gardaí' and was remanded in custody to Cloverhill Prison by Judge Anderson, who said he could not deal with the case while the defendant denied his identity.

Mr Sludds had also claimed during those proceedings last Wednesday that Judge Anderson had no jurisdiction to deal with the case unless he first produced his oath of office.

Last Friday, at the High Court, Mr Justice Roderick Murphy directed Mr Sludds be released after he was informed the State 'did not intend to seek to justify' his continued detention.

The judge was informed the matter had been settled and costs had been agreed between the parties. After his release, Mr Sludds was greeted and embraced by members of his family.

Mr Sludds's lawyers sought an inquiry under Article 40 of the Constitution into the legality of his detention on grounds including that Judge Anderson had erred by remanding Mr Sludds in custody when Gardaí, who had no issue in relation to his identity, had not objected to bail being granted.

Senior counsel Colman Fitzgerald, for Mr Sludds, said Gardaí at Wexford District Court had not voiced a concern that Mr Sludds would fail to turn up at a later hearing. Mr Fitzgerald also argued the motoring offences against Mr Sludds would not attract a custodial sentence if he is convicted of them.

However, Mr Fitzgerald said his client accepted his argument to Judge Anderson regarding his oath of office last Wednesday was 'misconceived'.

'I'm not Mr Sludds,' he told Judge Anderson when his case was called. The defendant said he had been brought to the court against his will and demanded to see Judge Anderson's oath of office, while also asking a number of other questions.

' This is not a quiz,' said Judge Anderson, telling Mr Sludds that he was asking the questions, not the other way around.

'I'm asking you for your oath,' said Mr Sludds. ' What's the point?' replied Judge Anderson. Mr Sludds said that if asked for it, he is entitled to produce it and said that without it he was not a judge, just a man, and the court had no authority.

' The constitution doesn't require me to carry my oath around,' Judge Anderson informed Mr Sludds, adding that he'd taken his oath in front of the Chief Justice.

' Do you speak English or legalese?' replied Mr Sludds, who had three supporters in court with him, as well as a number of legal resources, including Black's Law Dictionary.

'I have no name Barry Oliver Sludds. It is a fiction made up by the Gardaí so that they can profit from it,' he said.

The prosecuting Garda, Michael O'Grady, said that when stopped previously, the defendant had told him his name was 'Bobby of the family Sludds'. However, he said that his birth cert says 'Oliver Sludds'.

Mr Sludds then said he was 'producing Oliver Sludds' to the court and handed in his birth cert. ' I'm not a piece of paper, I'm a real flesh and blood man,' he told Judge Anderson.

Judge Anderson said that if Mr Sludds couldn't come up with an alternative identity and doesn't have a name then he would be unable to grant him bail or proceed with the case and remanded him in custody to Cloverhill.

Sludds is charged with a number of motoring offences at Ballinamona, The Ballagh, on April 28, 2010, and at Ballagh Cove, The Ballagh, on May 19, 2010.

These include driving without insurance, a licence, no NCT, having no registration plate on the back of the vehicle and failing to stop the vehicle after being asked to do so by gardaí.