'I paid licence fee for broken TV', Longford asylum seeker tells judge

Judge throws out case taken by An Post

A court has heard how an asylum seeker with a broken television and living on little more than €20 a week was prosecuted for not having a TV licence in place.

An Post took a case against Jamil Farhen after An Post TV licence inspector called to the accused’s place of resident at 10 Ardagh Lodge on June 28 2017.

Mr Farhen, who represented himself throughout the brief hearing at Longford District Court, said he was pleading not guilty to the alleged offence.

The court was told when an inspector called to the home of Mr Farhen a TV was observed on the premises.

It was also revealed the State was at a loss of €93 with Mr Farhen having taken out a TV licence the day before the court sitting.

Mr Farhen said he had lived in the aforementioned property for the past 12 months but said the TV on the premises was not functional.

“He (inspector) asked me to give my details,” said Mr Farhen.

“I gave my name and he was gone.

“The TV was there but it was a broken TV. He just asked my details and ran away.”

The court was told Mr Farhen had been sent two warning letters in the meantime, a claim which was disputed by the accused who said he had received only one.

Judge Conal Gibbons asked Mr Farhen why he chose not to inform the inspector that the television in his home was not working.

“‘If you can fix the TV, I will pay a licence’. That would be the first thing you would say to him,” said Judge Gibbons.

Mr Farhen replied, saying was not aware of the protocols surrounding having a TV licence, an excuse Judge Gibbons said was not credible in the eyes of the law.

“Even if your TV is broken, if you have an aerial that’s sufficient for a prosecution.”

“Though the argument could be made that you will learn more looking at a blank screen rather than an active one,” joked the judge.

It was at that juncture, Mr Farhen revealed he was not in a position to work as he was an asylum seeker, an acknowledgement which prompted Judge Gibbons to strike out the case.

“That’s extraordinary,” he responded.

“He’s (Mr Farhen) open, honest and he’s trying his best.

“He also couldn’t work for the last two years and despite all of that he went out and bought a TV licence for a broken television.

“Maybe An Post should give him one.”

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