Judge’s refusal to grant legal aid sees him in the High Court

A judge was critical of a visiting barrister for pushing ahead with an appeal against his decision not to award legal aid to a man with €2,000 in the bank.

“This man is seeking to review this court, but he’s happy to work in the black economy and avoid contributing to the State from which he’s applying to for assistance? Please quote me on that,” said Judge Seamus Hughes to Ciaran O’Mahony BL.

Mr O’Mahony was appearing in Athlone District Court on behalf of Mihai Andrei (40 ), and Cristian Gheorghe (39 ), both with an address in Beechfield View, Castaheany, Dublin 15.

Both are charged with shoplifting from Dunnes Stores, Irishtown, Athlone on March 28.

However, Judge Hughes recognised the case, and reminded the court that the latter of these co-defendants had taken a judicial review (an appeal ) to the High Court of his decision on June 25 to refuse Gheorghe legal aid on account of the €2,000 he had in a bank account which an earlier-ordered statement of means revealed.

“What have I said about these Dublin solicitors?” said the judge, referring to his 2012 criticisms of metropolitan firms picking up clients in small provincial cases, and promoting what he felt was an “inappropriate” number of judicial reviews.

However, Mr O’Mahony pointed out that he wasn’t the lawyer who brought this particular review, but a colleague, and the judge retorted: “Usual. No continuity of defence”.

Judge Hughes then reminded the court that he had “formally directed the State to inform Inland Revenue and CAB” on this on June 25, a matter he believed was “tainted with illegality”.

After a brief adjournment to establish whose responsibility this was, Inspector Aidan Minnock told the court it was up to the defence to make something like this known to the Revenue Commissioners.

“I may be mistaking this case for [another]. Do you still wish for this to be notified [for the review]?” asked the judge.

When Mr Courtney said he was, and that the review was scheduled in the High Court for October 24, the judge remanded both men on continuing bail until January 14.

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