Judge apologises for bench warrant issued

Judge John Neilan has apologised to a wheelchair-bound Mullingar man who wasn’t able to have his case heard in the main courtroom.

James Rattigan had to be lifted up the steps inside the courthouse and wheeled to the judge’s chamber in order for his public order and road traffic offences to be adjourned.

Garda Raymond Lynch told the court how he arrested Mr Rattigan at his home at 7 McCurtain Street on foot of a bench warrant.

Ms Patricia Cronin said her client had been in a serious road traffic accident in November last year, and that because she had no medical report to show Judge David Anderson at a recent sitting which Mr Rattigan had been unable to attend, the judge had issued a bench warrant.

Mr Rattigan said that he is confined to the wheelchair for the moment “but I won’t be in it forever”.

Ms Cronin said he was receiving ongoing medical treatment and requested a lengthy adjournment.

The judge apologised to the young man that the courthouse didn’t have “the appropriate facilities available to people with difficulties such as you have”.

“It’s regrettable and I apologise,” he said, adding that there was a plan for refurbishment two or three years ago but “we ran out of money”.

He told Mr Rattigan that he did not have to attend court in future if he is represented.

“There’s no point in putting you to trouble when we don’t have the facilities that should be in place,” he said, urging Mr Rattigan to look after himself.

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