'Facilitate disappearance' of convicted paedophile, judge encourages gardai
A judge has said he is hoping that gardai will "facilitate" the disappearance of Joseph O'Brien after the convicted paedophile appears in court next week.
Judge Patrick Durcan made the comment at Ennis District Court yesterday, after O'Brien's solicitor John Casey said that he may have an address for O'Brien (62) to stay at when the case comes back before the court on Wednesday.
In response, Judge Durcan said: "That's a matter for you to resolve with the gardai."
He added that he was anxious that "gardai will facilitate his disappearance" next Wednesday. Judge Durcan told Mr Casey: "All I am anxious is that next Wednesday that Mr O'Brien can... that gardai can facilitate his disappearance."
Directly addressing O'Brien, Judge Durcan said: "I am not disposed to lengthening your sentence or anything like that."
Last Wednesday in court, Judge Durcan intervened to try to stop O'Brien spending the next four months in jail and remanded him in custody for one week, to allow the Probation Service and Mr Casey time to find accommodation for him.
Mr Casey had told Judge Durcan that O'Brien was willing to take the jail sentence for breaching the terms of a suspended four-month term by not informing gardai of a change of address.
Mr Casey said that because of tabloid newspaper interest in the case, accommodation for O'Brien was impossible.
However, Judge Durcan stepped in and said: "The answer isn't that this man is left in prison so that basically the media can't get at him there.
"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. What I would like is that this man can be released but, obviously, there has to be assistance."
On December 22, Judge Durcan had issued a bench warrant for O'Brien's arrest after he left his accommodation and went missing following front-page press coverage of his case.
A condition of the suspended jail term is that O'Brien has no direct contact with children, after a report which stated that he has a high risk of sexual reoffending. O'Brien, formerly of Pound Street, Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, turned himself in to gardai on December 27 and has been in custody since.
"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," Mr Casey said on Wednesday.
Judge Durcan said: "I would expect that the media would treat this man with respect.
"I would hope that Mr O'Brien would receive the respect he deserves, as every citizen deserves who has paid the price for what they have done."
Judge Durcan said that breaching the directions of the Sex Offenders Register was a very serious matter, but added that the circumstances of the case were different, as O'Brien was subject to media coverage. In court yesterday, Judge Durcan remanded O'Brien in custody at Limerick Prison, to reappear on Wednesday.