A former addict from Limerick, appearing in court in Athlone on a three-year-old warrant, avoided a jail sentence this week (March 12 ) because of rehabilitative efforts he has made in four other towns in the interim.
The court heard how Paul Moloney (30 ), with an address at Priory Court, Dundalk, Co Louth had been on a bus from Kinnegad to Galway with four others on May 13, 2011 when they were put off in Athlone for causing a disturbance.
Moloney was arrested for this, but failed to appear in court on the following July 20.
Inspector Nicholas Farrell explained that this bench warrant was only executed last week, and that Moloney had 39 previous convictions - 29 of which were for public order offences.
His solicitor, Mr Padraig Quinn, explained that his client was originally from Limerick, but had a “serious drug addiction at the time”.
He explained how his client failed to appear in court on the given date as he had made a decision to go into Bushypark addiction treatment centre in Ennis, Co Clare, and from there to Tabor House in Navan, Co Meath which helps re-introduce addicts back to society.
From there, he went as a part-time student to the Cavan Institute of Technology where he took a course in Sports and Leisure Management, and from there to Dundalk where he is presently a full-time student at the Institute of Technology where he is doing a youth worker course.
Judge Seamus Hughes sought documentary evidence for all these claims, and though Moloney didn’t have them with him, he said he could provide them.
Unimpressed without corroborating evidence, and referring to Moloney’s past as “an absolutely appalling record”, the judge indicated he was about to convict, but was interrupted by an appeal from Mr Quinn.
The solicitor pointed out that because of the nature of his client’s studies, he would have to seek Garda vetting in the future if he was to apply for work in his chosen field, and Mr Quinn asked the judge to apply the Probation Act in this instance.
Demurring for a moment, the judge asked how he was found by the authorities in relation to the outstanding warrant.
Moloney said he knew the warrant was hanging over him, and that he had surrendered himself to gardaí in Ennis in 2011 when he got out of the rehab unit.
Inspector Farrell couldn’t immediately corroborate this claim, but said: “I can look for it”.
“Do you believe his credibility?” asked the judge.
“He hasn’t been in trouble since 2011,” said the inspector.
“It sounds like he’s changed,” agreed the judge.
“I have,” said the defendant.
“It’s disappointing there aren’t copies of your certificates, but you’d definitely be going to prison today if you hadn’t done all these courses. I accept what you say, Mr Quinn,” said the judge before applying the Probation Act, and allowing Moloney leave court without the burden of another conviction.