Waterford District Court was witness to an unusual scene last Friday when a man appeared in court and asked the judge for a more severe sentence.
James O’Brien (45) of 148 Poleberry Waterford City was in court on a summons relating to unpaid traffic fines.
The judge was going to give him the appropriate sentence for his crime, but things took an unexpected turn…
Court surprised – an unusual request
Members of the local legal profession and press and those in the public gallery were surprised at the sudden plea from the accused.
Justice Dermott Farrell asked O’Brien, “This is a fairly simple case of failing to discharge a parking fine and one that would not usually warrant a custodial sentence.”
The judge then continued, “I was thinking of imposing a small fine. However, I am duty-bound to listen to any mitigating remarks the defendant might make.”
O’Brien, who was representing himself, took to the stand and after being sworn in, said, “Well ’tis like this, your honour. The offence took place on a Saturday last February.
“I have no hesitation in pleading guilty to the parking offence and deliberately ignoring the notice that came in the post.
“But I respectfully request that your honour sentence me to at least a year in prison, and preferably a prison as far away from Waterford as possible – perhaps Donegal,” he pleaded.
Plea – desperate measures
There was an audible gasp from those listening at this stage, and the judge then asked O’Brien to expand on his plea.
“As I said, your honour, sir, it was a Saturday afternoon last February, and I was just settling down in front of the TV to watch the Ireland v England rugby match.
“The wife had me working in the garden all shagging morning, so she had, and she had had me painting the house all week and, as she put it, a ‘few other odd jobs’ around the house.
“To be honest, judge, since I lost me job, she has me cleaning, sweeping, and painting every day,” O’Brien said, becoming emotional.
Just about to pop open a can – working all day long
He continued, “Anyway, judge, I was sitting down, and the match was about to start. I had a big ham sandwich made – I hadn’t eaten all day as she insists I go on a diet and she’ll only allow me fecking salads.”
“So there I was, judge,” O’Brien went on. “Just settling in with a can of lager, me ham sandwich, and the ball just about to be kicked off when all of a sudden she storms into the shagging living room, switches off the telly, and demands that I drive her shopping.
“Now she’s a big woman, judge,” O’Brien added, “and she’s likely to lose the plot altogether if things don’t go her way, so she is.
“So I had no shagging choice but to comply, so I hadn’t,” a now distraught O’Brien told the court.
The offence – the crime committed
In further evidence, O’Brien outlined how, when they got down to the centre of the city, the wife told him to pull in in front of Reginald’s Tower (where there’s no parking allowed.)
“I’ll only be a minute, you stay in the car,” said she as she ‘popped’ into the nearest shop.
“Jaysus Judge, sure she wasn’t back for about three hours. So the Guards gave me the ticket. I can’t really blame them, sir,” he explained.
“Honestly, judge. I can’t take any more of her constant nagging and her fecking clean this, clean that demands. Please, your honour, sir, lock me away, please. I’m fecking begging you,” a now tearful O’Brien begged.
At this stage, the judge was beginning to understand O’Brien’s plight. Being a married man himself had sympathy for the accused but pointed out that unless O’Brien had mitigating factors like other charges to be taken into account, he simply couldn’t impose a custodial sentence for parking.
Quick on the uptake – knew what he needed to do
O’Brien, being quick on the uptake and taking the judge’s hint, admitted to kidnapping Shergar, membership of both the IRA and the UVF, and to shooting Kennedy.
“Ah fair enough,” said the judge as he sentenced O’Brien to twelve-month solitary confinement in a Donegal jail.
It’s reported that O’Brien wept tears of joy as he was led away in handcuffs to begin his sentence. It is not expected that he will lodge an appeal.