Phones confiscated as judge photographed

A District Court judge has ordered the confiscation of two phones after he noticed a man taking a photograph of him in court.

A video and at least three photographs were taken of Judge Seamus Hughes as he presided at Mullingar District Court.

He was dealing with a drug dealing prosecution when he appeared to notice a flash, and stopped proceedings, asking gardaí to show him the photograph.

He described it as “a perfectly composed picture” of himself.

It emerged that three photographs and a video were taken on the phone owned by a man whose case was being heard.

As John Glynn (38 ) of Knockmore Drive, Tallaght was pleading guilty to drug possession and drug dealing at the cemetery in Rathwire, Killucan in October last year, his brother Robert was using John’s phone to take pictures of proceedings.

Robert Glynn said the phone wasn’t his and he hadn’t meant to take a picture, and had simply pressed a button.

Judge Hughes said that might have been an acceptable excuse if there hadn’t been three photos and a video.

He said there is a total prohibition on recording and taking pictures in court.

He said he didn’t believe for a moment Robert Glynn’s work was accidental, because it’s a purposeful action to make a recording and referred to previous incidents where judges were recorded and images uploaded onto Youtube.

He also referred to what he called “certain Limerick criminals” using videos of interviews taken at Garda stations during questioning to get laughs in pubs.

The videos, released under court order as part of disclosure to a defendant’s defence team, would be shown to crowds in pubs, he said, with laughs getting louder and louder the more the man being questioned replied “No comment”.

Glynn told the court he’d saved for months to gather €350 to pay for the phone and offered to wipe the memory if he could have it back.

However, Judge Hughes suggested gardaí hold John Glynn’s phone and Inspector Dermot Drea requested a court order for gardai to also retain Robert Glynn’s phone for the purposes of an investigation.

Judge Hughes asked gardaí to investigate what, if any law had been broken and said the case may have to be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

He initially ordered deletion of any photographs that may have been taken, but when he saw the pictures and played the video, which had also had audio, he said the phone should be handed over for investigation.

He said there may be questions to be answered about why such photographs and video were being taken.

He went on to convict John Glynn of dealing €150 cannabis resin and fined him €200.

 

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