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Comical scenes in court as judge hears how Longford man's drinking habit is an ‘ecumenical matter’

Longford Courthouse.

A court was told last week that a Longford man's drinking habits are an 'ecumenical matter'

A Longford solicitor’s attempts to avoid answering as to whether his client had a fondness for drink sparked comical scenes in court last week when the issue was described as being ‘an ecumenical matter’.

Frank Gearty made the admission at last Tuesday’s sitting of Longford District Court while defending Polish father of two Stanislew Wszolek (49), 15 The Laurels, Ballinalee Road, Longford.

The meat factory worker had been in attendance to face charges relating to dangerous and drink driving offences at Drumlish on January 8, 2019.

Mr Gearty said his client would be willing to plead guilty to both charges in view of a second dangerous driving charge at Cahanagh, Drumlish being withdrawn by the State.

Sgt Paddy McGirl said the incident before the court took place at around 7pm when the accused crossed a continuous white line and into the path of an oncoming car which was travelling past local cement firm Mulleadys.

The incident, he said, caused the motorist to pull in and slow down as Mr Wszolek continued towards Longford.

A short time later, Sgt McGirl said the defendant’s car was spotted attempting to go round a bend at Church Street on the incorrect side of the road seconds before gardaí managed to stop the vehicle on Main Street.

As he begun his defence, Mr Gearty said Mr Wszolek was holding his hands up over being intoxicated on the evening and was remorseful over what had happened.

“He is not in any way proud as to what he did,” said Mr Gearty, saying the incident and its fallout was likely to have an “awful inconvenience” for him.

As Mr Gearty described how Mr Wszolek was a foreman in a local meat factory for the past eight years, Judge Hughes asked the Polish native if Brexit was a concern for him.

“No,” was the reply given by Mr Wszoleck.

Mr Gearty, interjecting for a second time, said his client had two adult daughters living in Krakow who he continued to support.

Taking note of that and the insistence by Mr Gearty that the episode was very much “out of character”, Judge Hughes asked Mr Wszolek if he had a penchant for alcohol.

With no response appearing forthcoming, Mr Gearty jokingly leaned forward and said: “As Fr Jack would say, that would be an ecumenical matter.”

It was statement which left many inside the court struggling to hide their amusement.

Mr Wszoleck, himself, replied: “No” soon after to further probings from Judge Hughes as to whether he had an attachment to alcohol.

“Like a lot of people off the road (banned), you don’t like drink,” Judge Hughes responded.

In finalising the case, Judge Hughes disqualified Mr Wszoleck for three years on the Section 4 drink driving charge alongside a €250 fine.

A concurrent two year ban for dangerous driving and a further €105 fine was likewise issued with the remaining charges being struck out.

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