Truant must decide whether mum or dad go to jail, but the judge has a namby-pamby streak

Alf was tempted to persuade whoever is appointing our judges nowadays to think about hiring Judge Alan Mitchell.

This Judge Mitchell feller sits in the Galway District Court in Ireland.

He has just made a ruling (see here) that suggests to Alf he thinks outside the square, when it comes to sentencing, and he is not one of your namby-pamby judges.

The case involved a brat with a track record for skipping school, no matter the warnings that his parents could be hauled before the court as a consequence.

Sure enough, when the offending persisted, the parents were hauled before the court.

And Judge Mitchell has put the brat on the spot by having him call the shots, when it comes to the penalty.

An Irish teenage boy was ordered to make the heart-breaking decision to send either his mother or his father to jail for failing to ensure he attended school.

Judge Alan Mitchell told the youth he must choose who will be jailed for 21 days and who will receive a suspended sentence during a case brought against the boy’s parents at Galway District Court.

The brat is 15 years old and is a repeat truant who continued bunking off even after he was made aware of the possible legal consequences for his parents.

Judge Mitchell said: ‘He can consider which of his parents he wants to go to prison for 21 days and which gets the suspended sentence.’

He added that if needs be the teenager should attend Galway District Court today to make the decision, reports the Irish Independent.

‘If every teenage child could direct whether to go to school or not there would be anarchy in this country,’ he added, before describing the current situation as ‘totally unacceptable’.

‘He can consider which of his parents he wants to go to prison for 21 days and which gets the suspended sentence.’

Paul McCavera, Galway city education welfare officer, told the court that the teenager had missed 91 days of school out of 114 this school year so far.

But the parents aren’t exactly good role models for the brat.

Both parents had previously been summonsed to court but the father had failed to attend and a bench warrant was issued for him.

On a previous occasion (see here), the judge pissed off the Galway City Council by striking out more than 330 cases of alleged non-payment of parking fines.

At a special sitting of Galway District Court last December, Judge Alan Mitchell struck out 338 summonses relating to alleged parking and road traffic offences after finding the summonses were defective.

Judge Mitchell struck out the summonses because they failed to refer to section 3 of the 1975 Traffic Wardens Act. Section 3 deals with the issuing of fixed-charge notices by a traffic warden for fixed-charged offences, such as parking offences.

The 330 notices state an alleged offence has been committed but the person will not be prosecuted if a fine is paid within a fixed period of time.

Most motorists would regard Judge Mitchell as a splendid fellow, on the strength of this judgement, although it does hint at an inclination to let felons off the hook on the minutiae of a technicality.

The last Alf knew of things, the council was seeking a High Court clarification of points raised at the District Court.

But alarm bells clanged more loudly (see here) when Judge Mitchell reduced a charge of dangerous driving to one of careless driving.

Donal O’Shea, 30 O’Moore Place, Portlaoise, committed the offence on May 7 this year. Inspector Martin Harrington gave evidence that O’Shea attempted to overtake two cars at the N80 Portlaoise, but he did not leave enough time to overtake the second vehicle causing it to brake suddenly and pull into the hard shoulder.

O’Shea has seven previous convictions, one of which is for road traffic matters.

After hearing the inspector’s evidence, Judge Mitchell deemed it a minor incident and he reduced the charge against O’Shea.

Defence, Ms Josephine Fitzpatrick admitted her client’s actions were “teetering on dangerous driving”. She said it had been very bad judgement on O’Shea’s part to put the other vehicles in danger, but she said he was hoping to retain his licence as he is studying in Carlow and needs his car to travel.

Judge Mitchell warned Mitchell he could kill himself or an innocent road user if he continued to drive in such a manner.

But then he took his foot off the pedal.

The judge said he wouldn’t disqualify O’Shea, but he added that for any future careless driving a disqualification is mandatory. He fined O’Shea €750 and reminded him of his responsibility as a road user.

“A driving licence is a privilege, not a right,” said Judge Mitchell.

Damned right.

But by not disqualifying this miscreant, the judge disqualified himself from joining Alf’s list of judges to be admired for not being namby-pamby.

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