Judge warns defendants that court fines must be paid immediately

Judge Seamus Hughes is warning people who plead guilty to offences before him to come to court with money.

At a recent sitting of Mullingar District Court he said he will be asking people to pay fines immediately in court or face seven days in prison as it’s “effective” considering “the stretched resources of the State”.

“I’ll be using it a lot more frequently,” he said of the strategy and the penalty he imposed on Joe Dinnegan of 298 Dalton Park, Mullingar when the 41-year-old admitted being drunk on McCurtain Street, Mullingar on August 3 last year.

He has 38 previous convictions which prompted the judge to observe to him that “you’re fond of your drink”.

Ms Patricia Cronin said he is now off drink and doesn’t really remember the incident.

When the judge asked if he’d been arrested and served time in prison for failing to pay a fine in the past, the court heard he had.

It was then, despite intervention by Ms Cronin who explained her client is on social welfare, that the judge ordered the €250 fine be paid immediately or Dinnegan would serve seven days in jail.

It would cost €500 cash to lodge an appeal, the judge added.

Dinnegan drew the attention of Inspector Fergus Treanor and Judge David Anderson in December of last year when he claimed legal aid despite enjoying a €4,000 holiday in Lapland with his family.

He had instructed his solicitor to present the receipt for the holiday to the court to explain his absence.

When pushed in January by Judge Anderson to say whether he had enjoyed his time away, Dinnegan grudgingly admitted it had been “Alright. I didn’t pay for it”.


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