District Court No 2, Parkgate Street, Dublin 8: a morning visit with a notebook (November 2014) by Michelle Clarke

Observer reports in astonishment at the waste of citizen’s resources in routine arrests; referrals to the DPP; decisions to prosecute and who pays?
Criminal:
Courts of Justice
November 2014
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Defence:        Michael Hanohoe:
Prosecution:  Mr Hamilton:
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Notes by Michelle Clarke

The Criminal Courts of Justice http://www.courts.ie  is the principal courts building for the criminal courts in the Republic of Ireland. It is on Parkgate Street, near the Phoenix Park.

You enter this recently constructed imposing building.  All items in bags are diligently checked through monitors. Even the bottle of water had to be thrown in bin if not consumed.

What immediately strikes you is the vast space with groups people in huddles.  We recognised two Gardai, a Garda Hunt and Garda Falvey and we spoke to Brian Purcell solicitor.

At 10.30 am we  entered Court No 2. The area for the witnesses is on the left, the accused sits behind a screen on the right beside the door where they are led off by prison officers (3 present) if the Judge sentences them to a term in prison.  The Judge is positioned in the centre with his own computer and screen.  Overhead are two large screens on either side for the purpose of representation.

Judge Brian Smyth enters:  My  immediate gut feeling is that of the arrogance associated with members of the legal profession and in particular the Judiciary and administratively astute.  Within minutes one realised he was not a man to tolerate fools gladly and his questions to the Gardai were accurate and he became impatient if they failed to be specific with their answers.  At this early stage there were more Gardai and barristers/solicitors in the court.  The first few cases were dealt with speedily about 5 minutes each on average.  Some were placed on remand, others probation and certain cases were negotiated and put back to a later date.  One person phoned his barrister to say he was delayed but was on his way to the court and extra time was permitted.  Barristers where possible ask for special circumstances for their client like having the case put back a month; others who are on remand and have continuing bail extended.  Judge Brian Smyth appeared annoyed and emphasized to the barrister that the court has to operate on a reasonable basis and that the client should not be late that he should understand that his duty was to be at court.  He noted that previous bench warrants applied to the client in question.

Next was a case screened from a prison.  The defendant was asking for his solicitor.  It was hard to follow.

The next case was a woman called before the court.  She looked so many years older than the age stated of 38 yrs.  She was directed to the box on the right.

Charge:  While entering Mountjoy prison she was searched and they found ‘Diazepam’http://www.drugs.com/diazepam.html to give to other prisoners.  It was e250 worth; and 250 tablets.  The Gardai explained to the Judge the issue with contraband and the problems involved in the prisons.  The woman had 10 previous convictions (Larceny, Theft, Assaults…).  The Judge is told that she is a drug addict and is presently on methadone.  Her two children are in care and that she presently lives in a hostel ie Darleys.  Her solicitor tried to emphasize the positive points that she was presently on methadone and had secured accommodation and was in contact with her children. The Judge indicated that it is looking like a sentence.  He clarified her earnings and asked her was it e188 social welfare but she said she was on disability at e198 per week and that her rent was low at 25e per week.

Judge Brian Smyth’s decision was 6 months in prison.

Sadly numbed possibly shocked she was escorted down the stairs with the prison officers.

Next was a foreign man to the stand.  The Judge asked him if he needed an interpreter.  The Judge stressed the need to for the defendant to fully understand the proceedings.

The next man was brought in by a prison officer so he was already in prison.  He had stolen a wallet.  He was caught.  He returned the contents.  He had 116 previous convictions.  He was presently serving 3 months.  His previous sentence was a suspended sentence.  He had worked with Fr McVerry before going to prison concerning his addiction. He is now on methadone.  All that was in the wallet was e15 and a driving licence.  He lived at home with his parents and was in receipt of social welfare.  The Judge sentenced him to 8 months from November 6th 2014.

Then there was a Strike Out.

Then we heard: Garda Hunt v KT and the words

‘Let it stand’.  A waiting game.

Garda Hunt to the stand.

Thomas Dowling, employee Tesco Ireland http://crimeandjustice.co.uk/tag/tescohttp://crimeandjustice.co.uk/tag/tesco, Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4.

Position Security (CCTV).  He worked approximately 7 years with Tesco.

First Charge:  10th January 2014

Judge asked:
What are we to observe? ‘The lectern, screen monitor for shop’ was the response.

Next frame:  KT calling names ie ‘Scumbag’ while Dowling was at the screen monitor behind the lectern watching CCTV.  Judge asked ‘Who heard’?    Then Tom stated that KT moved around the corner to pay for his stuff!

Tom stated that on 10th January 2014 he was standing talking to a friend (Alex) at the CCTV security desk while KT was shopping.  ‘He said he paid for his stuff and left the shop’.  The Judge could not (nor could I) understand what Mr Dowling was saying and asked him to speak slowly.  The Judge continued to listen but he could not understand what was being said so the prosecutor acted by asking the questions.     Thomas Dowling went on to say that the customer shouted names at him ie ‘Muppet, Stone Face’.  He said there was about five customers who were present.  Tom stressed that the KT made him feel uncomfortable.

Judge Smyth asked if he saw the customer in the court and Tom pointed to KT.  Tom then repeated that he was called names by KT.  He said that KT left the store and kept looking back towards him, licking his lips, that he walked across the road to Xtra-vision ie ‘literally across the road’, put his shopping in the car and came back across the road with another man.  He said he shouted ‘Scumbag Muppet’ and took out his phone to take a picture.  The Judge asked where the men were positioned and Tom Dowling said they were outside the window.  Again he was asked were there any witnesses in the store and he said nobody else was present.  Tom Dowling then re-iterated yet again how he felt uncomfortable with this particular customer in the store.  He mentioned about KT and the camera taking photos.  Then he explained that KT got back into the car and drove off.  Judge Smyth asked about the length of the video and he said 10-15 minutes.  Again he re-iterated he felt uncomfortable so he called Garda Hunt.  Judge Smyth highlighted that there were separate matters.  He asked the time of day and Tom replied between 1 pm and 2 pm at the Tesco store in Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4.

Michael Hanahoe, (solicitor for KT)  asked Tom Dowling if he was aware that KT had made a complaint to the store manager, Mr Nugent, about him.  Tom said he was not aware of this.  Mr Hanohoe drew reference to KT moving from the counter and aisle to aisle.  Mr Hanahoe asked him about the word ‘Scumbag’ and the statement made to An Gardai.  He then went on to clarify that Tom Dowling had read the statement that morning, provided by An Gardai, and Tom said yes and said the word used was “Scumbag” and that KT was also shouting the word ‘Muppet’ as he moved towards the area of the till.

Michael Hanahoe put it to Tom Dowling that there was no mention of the word ‘Scumbag”.  Dowling said it was the word.  Hanahoe read out the statement and asked Dowling to do likewise.  He directed him to page and number.

Fact:  “Scumbag” did not appear in the statement.Alex Martin was called as a witness  It was stressed that his hearing was not the best.  However it related to an ear infection and he was asked did he attend the doctor about same?   His answer was unclear but he said did not hear the comments made by KT as detailed by Tom.  He confirmed that he knew that KT was angry.

“A big bull head on him” was how Tom Dowling  described KT to Gardai.  He was asked again if he was aware that KT had made a complaint to his manager.

Judge intervened to state that this was a discrete matter.  Dowling said again he was not aware of any communication between KT and Mr Nugent, the manager.  The Judge asked him where the CCTV was situated in the store and Tom Dowling said it was beside the exit door.  Then it was clarified that while KT was in the aisles of the shop, Dowling claims KT was still saying things about him.

Again he was asked about if there were other customers as witnesses and he said no.

Outcome: 

CCTV given to An Gardai within days by Tom Dowling.

First Charge:  10th January 2014
Judge asked: What are we to observe?

The witness Alex Martin on date 20/01/14.  He was passing Tesco and went into say hello to Tom Dowling.  He spoke to Tom for 1 to 2 minutes.  Tom was standing at the door.  He recalled a man shouting and smiling but he did not know him.  He got into a car across the road.  Martin did not hear him call names but felt that his body language was very aggressive.  He was asked about Tom Dowling’s reactions to this and he said he was quite distressed.  He stated that he had an ear infection and could not hear through the window.

Garda Hunt

14th January 2014, as liaison for D4 area, he was informed about incident and took a statement.  He called KT to Irishtown Garda station on 22/01/14.  The relevant charge to be considered : –

‘What does Breach of the Peace’ mean; does it go beyond the word boisterous’?

The Judge acknowledged that Tom Dowling had a case; it was a matter of Fact to the pleas of Mr Hamilton for his client.  But the Judge was not satisfied that even at the lower level of interpretation that the case could be established.

Judge Smyth dismissed the case.

The second part ie 13th January 2014 concerned an incident at the fruit bay section in the Tesco Store in Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 2.  Dowling claimed that KT called him a ‘Brain Box’ and again claimed that KT  was very aggressive.  A work colleague confirmed this by saying KT was intimidating and that Tom was trying to avoid him.  The CCTV evidence was given to Garda Brian Hunt.  The same CCTV that was in the court for the hearing.

Mr Lynch agreed with Tom Dowling about KT being aggressive and intimidating.  Mr Lynch acknowledged that KT was a regular customer.  He went on to say that the incident period was about 5 seconds.  He claimed that he too felt threatened and abused.  He considered it not to be a nice thing or a nice thought.  He said it in a fairly loud voice ‘Brain Box’ and walked off.  He stated that this had an impact on Mr Dowling.

Judge agreed that it was “not a nice thing” but could this amount to a criminal offence?

 

He referred to Section 6 and the intention to invoke a Breach of the Peace.

For the Prosecution, Mr Hamilton referred to the “Animus” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anima_and_animusbetween them.  The fact that he had been reported to the manager gave a clear indication of same.

Judge Smyth agreed it was unpleasant and it should not happen but that there was another way to resolve it.

Case thrown out of court.

The fact being the problem could be solved in another way.  There were two adults involved and resolution could be achieved in a different way.  The fact that Tesco Ireland were the employers and Tom Dowling, who made the complaint was their employee in charge of security, they most definitely were party to this and their duty is to reimburse the parties concerned including the An Garda Siochana, the accused KT, the Dublin Criminal Court expenses, the State solicitors and their team legal team and so many more unknown expenses that should be assessed and billed to Tesco Ireland.

As stated before I was the observer, taking notes.  KT being in the dock, stood accused and his perspective is essential.

As I stood in the Dock looking around the court room, I could not but notice Garda Hunt’s eyes staring at me.  Deep.  It reminded me, in some way, of a hatred I could not explain.  I knew it was personal.  He had this suave appearance and I could see the other Gardai from Donnybrook, Dublin 4, two in particular who came (even on their day off) and who were smiling – they really thought I was going to be convicted of a charge that practically did not even exist.

As I sat there, going through my mind, were all the letters I had written to the Supt Wheatley and the fact that there were no replies.  I remember one letter I wrote, which I will come back to shortly.  Judge Brian Smyth began and asked the State solicitor Hamilton to outline his case against me.  Hamilton stated ‘Harassment, name calling, and unsociable behaviour.’  There were other comments which I can’t recall at this time.  The CCTV of the Tesco Ireland security system which was organised by Mr Tom Dowling, the person who made the complaint against me.

Hamilton called up Dowling and he asked him – can you recognise the person in the court who harassed you.  I could not believe what came out of Dowling’s mouth.  He pointed his finger at me ‘That big thick ignorant fucker across there’  Judge Brian Smyth stopped him and said ‘you will not speak like that in this court’.  Dowling continued to rant ‘this man would come into the shop in Tesco and call me names like FBI agent, brain box and scumbag’.  Michael Hanohoe stopped him in cross-examination and asked him to please show him the page in the Book of Evidence where he stated the word ‘Scumbag'”.  Dowling had no answer.  I knew then the case was over.

The circus continued for another 40 minutes.  Two more individuals came up and made comments that baffled the word confusion.  One of them a non national said on the day in question he had an ear infection and could not hear anything.  I could see the frustration in Judge Brian Smyth’s face.  At this stage the court was packed between solicitors in between cases, some barristers and not forgetting at least 20 Gardai.  At one stage, when a Tesco employee stated  he ie me held in his hand a head of cabbage, the court erupted into laughter.  I saw one barrister bent in pain trying to keep the laughter in.  The entire court at this stage knew it was a total stitch up and this was not the first time. Also during the cross-examination there were words used like ‘Cabbage, Turnip, Brain Box and Cauliflower’.  It was like the song ‘Bring in the Clowns’.

Hamilton stood up and kept on pleading with the Judge.  He kept saying there is a case to answer here.  The Judge replied.  Just look at the video, the man in the dock is simply going about his business shopping.  I don’t see one shred of evidence of any harassment here.  But the most important words I heard and then and maybe I will never hear again from Judge Smyth “Mr Hamilton, if I was to charge this man today with an offence of any type, I would have to change the entire book of Irish Criminal Law”.   I deem both cases dismissed.  You are free to go, he said to me.  There were screams of laughter in the court.  Hunt stood stunned.  I can’t to this day figure out how he is still working as a detective in Irishtown.  It was a blatant pre meditated planned stitch up that backfired.  Yet, nobody is held responsible.  One more point I would like to make.  Almost one year later I was falsely arrested again – and yet again it was another stitch up.

Before I left the dock my mind went back to all the letters I sent to Supt Wheatley in Donnybrook which could have avoided this circus and a massive waste of taxpayers money.  As I was leaving the court with my partner and my friends, Hunt quietly said ‘I will have my fucking day’.  I turned and said nothing and my mind just said – a disillusioned ego acting as a Garda.  That is how thugs act – they abuse their sense of power and this is not the first time Hunt has been caught out.  I had hoped then a lesson was learned.  I was sadly to be wrong a year later.  Lucky or may I say, legally the DPP laughed the Charge Sheet out of their office, back again to Donnybrook.  Now I do know – I am a target.  Why?  I have no idea but I will not finish until I find out.

KT

Conclusion by Michelle Clarke

We need to seriously reconsider the concept of waste of time; it has a financial and emotional cost and can be a theft of resources which would be otherwise required.

What did this case cost the Irish citizen?  Did Tesco Ireland reimburse the Public Purse for there is reckless behaviour of their staff members?

 
Is there a more effective way to ensure bureaucracy and waste can be averted?  What is the role of the Gardai in cases such as this?  Quite clearly, Judge Brian Smyth could identify that this case should never have come before the courts.
 
Waste is a much underestimated word.  Pope Francis has clearly stated to waste food is in fact stealing from the poor.  To follow on, the High Court in Italy ruling said that the man was not guilty for stealing food because he was in fact hungry.
Quotation CS Lewis 1950’s
“I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of “Admin.” The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid “dens of crime” that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern.”

 

 

——– Forwarded Message ——–

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One Response to District Court No 2, Parkgate Street, Dublin 8: a morning visit with a notebook (November 2014) by Michelle Clarke

  1. michelleclarke2015 says:

    Reblogged this on canisgallicus and commented:

    Pope Francis says of ‘Waste, it is stealing from the poor’. The Sean Fitzpatrick, longest in Irish history case, proves that our system from ODCE to DPP to courts is a shambles. Waste is in abundance and the taxpayer pays … when do we say No. We need to empower the Criminal Assets Bureau to deal with Corruption. President Trump speaks of ‘Draining the Swamp’. Ireland urgently needs to tackle waste and a good place to start is where the Justice system fails dismally and costs inordinate sums of money which inevitably is paid for by vulnerable people, taxpayers and citizens.

    Like

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