January 2018

Judge doesn’t want paedophile ‘locked up’ because of media hunt

A judge tried to stop a convicted paedophile spending four months in jail yesterday because media coverage means the man has nowhere to live.

Joseph O’Brien, 62, told Ennis district court that he was willing to accept the time in jail for breaching the terms of a suspended sentence.

He had failed to notify gardaí of a change of address, as required by the Sex Offenders Act.

However, Judge Patrick Durcan said that leaving O’Brien in prison to protect him from the media was not the solution.

The four-month suspended sentence was imposed on O’Brien, formerly of Pound Street, Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, in November last year by Judge Durcan.

However, Judge Patrick ­Durcan deferred the case for a week, saying: “I am not disposed to having this man locked up any further . . .

“I don’t want to see Mr O’Brien unnecessarily locked up. I think everyone is entitled to see the new year as a new year.”

Last November, the pervert, of Ballintober, Co Roscommon, was handed the four-month suspended term when he pleaded guilty to failing to notify gardai of a change of address, as required by the Sex Offenders Act.

Three days before Christmas, Judge Durcan issued a bench warrant for his arrest after he vanished from his lodgings following front-page newspaper coverage of his case.

But O’Brien — who is banned from having any direct contact with children and has a high risk of reoffending — turned himself in to gardai on December 27 and has been in custody since.

Mr Casey submitted it’s “impossible” for his client to find accommodation because of “interest in the case”.

He told Judge Durcan: “The difficulty is Mr O’Brien doesn’t have anywhere to go. It’s a real present and practical difficulty.

“He is hoping this period of months in prison will allow him to arrange somewhere to go.

“I appreciate that the public has to be protected but Mr O’Brien does have rights as well and he will hopefully get accommodation in the meantime.”

Judge Durcan remanded O’Brien in custody for another week for the Probation Service to liaise with Mr Casey to try to obtain accommodation for him.

In October 2003 at Ennis Circuit Court, O’Brien received a six month jail term for the indecent assault of a female minor.

A risk assessment places Mr O’Brien in the ‘high risk’ category for sexual and very high risk category for non sexual offences”.