Prison governor ordered to explain repeat offender’s release
By Finian Coghlan
A judge has ordered a prison governor appear before him to explain how a man jailed for eight weeks in Mullingar last Thursday (June 14) was allowed out to re-offend in Athlone just five days later.
“I want the governor of the Midlands Prison to come here and tell the people of Athlone why Mr Fallon is out. I’m lost for words. This is an appalling situation,” said Judge Seamus Hughes in the case of Gerry Fallon (53), of Ardmullen, Kiltoom, Athlone, who appeared from Garda custody after being arrested at 2.40am on Wednesday (June 20), and charged with allegedly vandalising a car in Baylough.
“It’s hard to get my head around this,” said the judge, who recalled sentencing Fallon to two, consecutive, four-week sentences for trespassing at the homes of two elderly persons in the District Court in Mullingar on June 14.
“196 convictions, Mr Cooney?” the judge asked of Fallon’s solicitor, Mr Mark Cooney.
“No, judge. It was 196, but he went over the 200 that day,” pointed out Mr Cooney.
Judge Hughes then voiced a belief that a prison governor was not allowed offer a temporary release to a prisoner who had consecutive sentences until the first sentence was served, but none of the court officers could confirm this at the time.
“A lot of these decisions [concerning temporary release] are being made behind the backs of the custodians of the court, and the people of Athlone are entitled to an explanation,” said the judge.
At this point Fallon interjected with a big yawn, and shouted: “Just give me the gun and shoot me. You’ve been doin’ this to me all me life. I’ll not be here much longer”, before being escorted from the court to Garda custody in the station.
“I am perplexed by this decision [to release Fallon]. Have you any view to express on my comments?” the judge asked of Inspector Nicholas Farrell for the State when the hearing resumed.
The inspector agreed with the judge, and admitted that “the situation was commented on by my collegues this morning”.
“It is something that is difficult for us to understand. When we hear he is out of prison we know we’re going to be called very soon,” said the inspector.
“It must be very bad for morale?” the inspector was asked.
“Yes, judge,” he confirmed.
Fallon was remanded in custody for a week, and the judge issued a witness summons for the governor of the Midlands Prison, Colm Barclay, to appear on the same date (June 27).