A man who took a trailerload of waste timber from a forest had the charges of theft against him dismissed in the District Court last week (December 16 ) after the judge was critical of Caoillte for not properly using such a resource.
In court was David Stephens (25 ) from St Mel’s Terrace, Athlone who had been apprehended on December 8 with an accomplice removing a load of timber from Glenwood forest.
“He took it for his own use rather than to sell,” said his solicitor, Mr Padraig Quinn.
“He said it was lying there for two years and some of it was black rotten.”
Judge John Neilan told the court that he occasionally takes forest walks and he also noticed all the thinning trimmings lying around.
“Three years ago I asked the Welfare and Probation Service to enquire whether we could get community service orders to tidy these up. Heard nothing,” said the judge.
“I saw a programme on the television recently from Norway where such timber is used to heat the homes of the elderly.”
“When instructed by the Gardai he returned it to the forest,” said Mr Quinn.
“I’m clearly troubled by this. Obviously it’s an attraction,” said the judge.
“In my lifetime I’ve seen people go out with asses and carts to collect firewood.
“Caoillte are responsible to the people of the State. I fear, though, the first person there to read about my suggestion would be Caoillte’s public relations person who’ll then shout his head off about Judge Neilan.
“I suggest he keep his head under a desk and not raise it above the parapet or I’ll deal with him,” said the judge before dismissing the charge.