Judge worried about tourists in town after criminal activity

Judge Seamus Hughes has threatened to put a Mullingar man off the streets for the tourist season after hearing how he was caught urinating into an alleyway shortly after midday on April 28. He told Michael Dinnegan (48 ) St Joseph’s Cottages, Mullingar, who has 72 previous convictions, that he sees him walking around the town like a fool, drunk in public while most men are breaking a sweat. Dinnegan recently pleaded guilty to demanding money with menaces from a man who was visiting his son in a Mullingar estate on June 8 last year. Judge Hughes described it as a case of daylight robbery. The man felt obliged to hand over cash, to buy alcohol in a supermarket, and to empty his account at an ATM because he thought Dinnegan was threatening his son. Gardaí said Dinnegan asked the man if he loved his two-year-old more than money, if the boy was worth €200, and told him he was part of an unnamed organisation. When the victim went to the Garda Station, he was shaking and visibly frightened. Solicitor Louis Kiernan described his client’s actions as bullying and it was unfortunate that the victim hadn’t more fortitude. Dinnegan said he simply asked for a loan of the money, and that he asked the man to do him a turn because he can’t get served in licensed premises locally. He said the man had asked him for help because he wasn’t getting to see his child. However, he also denied that he knew the man’s partner or the child. Some of this differed from evidence given when the case was heard before Judge Sinead Ní Chúlacháin in March. He told her he was no longer drinking, that he had turned over a new leaf. He said he was more than sorry for what happened. But Judge Hughes said Dinnegan’s version of events was clearly sanitized, as if he was doing the victim a favour. He asked if he now had a reputation for being a marriage counsellor and wondered why the man would ask Dinnegan for help if he didn’t know his partner. Dinnegan didn’t turn up to two appointments with the probation service as required by Judge Ní Chúlacháin, who advised 180 hours community service in lieu of six months in prison. He has paid €300 compensation. Judge Hughes said that he will continue with the process set in train by the judge who previously heard the case and adjourned matters to June 5. “Grow up or get out,” he warned Dinnegan, telling him that he wasn’t a soft judge who will roll over with his talk and his plamass. Dinnegan is to remain sober and stay away from the victim and his family.

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