Judge tells Longford court of feeling ‘like a dog nodding in back of car’

"I believe Aldi might be doing a good line in geraniums and maybe you could move your horticultural ability in that direction," judge tells man on cannabis cultivation charge

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Longford Courthouse.

A judge has told of how she felt “like a dog nodding in the back of a car” after standing in for presiding Judge Seamus Hughes.

A judge has told of how she felt “like a dog nodding in the back of a car” after standing in for presiding Judge Seamus Hughes at a recent district court sitting.

Judge Miriam Walsh bemoaned her level of authority at last week's District Court sitting after being informed how Judge Hughes ordinarily deals with certain cases which are deemed unworthy of criminal conviction.

That resulted from comments made by local solicitor John Quinn as he spoke on behalf of a man who was before the courts for alleged cannabis cultivation.

James Doris, 21 Auburn Village, Ballymahon, Co Longford was previously before the district court Mr Quinn outlined, to pay €350 to the court poor box.

The 44-year-old had allegedly been found in the possession of two cannabis plants which were in the “early stages of growth” at 12 Auburn Village, Ballymahon, Co Longford on October 28, 2019.

The street value of the seized plants were estimated to be worth around €200, according to Inspector Paddy McGirl.

Mr Quinn claimed the plants were not being cultivated for financial gain and were for “self usage”.

Those assertions cut little ice with Judge Walsh as she called into question Mr Quinn's line of defence.

“It's an offence, self usage or not, and don't tell me they (plants) were for recreational purposes or I will go off my head altogether,” she stormed.

Mr Quinn said Judge Hughes, who was absent from last week's proceedings, had a certain approach to offences of this type and had adjourned the matter previously to allow Mr Doris gather up a suitable amount to hand into the court poor box.

“He has €350 and Judge Hughes is particularly anxious to swell the court poor box at this time of year,” said Mr Quinn.

Judge Walsh responded by calling into doubt whether her presence in the court held any judicial clout given the way affairs were carried through on a weekly basis by the presiding judge.

“I actually feel redundant and feel like a dog nodding in the back of a car,” she joked, somewhat tongue in cheek.

The court was also informed Mr Doris had not come to the attention of gardaí prior to the offence before the courts.

Mr Quinn also added his client was only growing the plants inside to aid his own medical issues.

Judge Walsh accepted the €350 to be directed to the court poor box and, in so doing, spared the Longford man a criminal conviction.

In accepting the money handed in by Mr Doris, she advised the accused to focus his interest in gardening elsewhere.

“I believe Aldi might be doing a good line in geraniums and maybe you could move your horticultural ability in that direction,” she told him.