High Court overturns conviction and fine for begging

Raju Rostas pleaded guilty last March to one charge of begging


A destitute man who said he resorted to begging so as to be able to feed himself has won a High Court order overturning his conviction and €300 fine for begging.

Raju Rostas pleaded guilty last March to one charge of begging under Section 2 of the 2011 Criminal Justice Public Order Act at Bray District Court but was convicted of two offences of begging under that section.

District Judge David Kennedy imposed a suspended one-month prison sentence and fined him €300, to be paid within three months.

The judge directed, if he failed to pay the fines within the time allowed, he would be jailed for eight days.

In High Court proceedings, Mr Rostas, represented by Micheal O’Higgins SC, challenged both the conviction and sentence on grounds including that Judge Kennedy erred in law in failing to have any regard for his means and ability to pay the fines.

Because Mr Rostas’s ability to pay the fines was “nil”, it was inevitable he would serve a period of imprisonment and Judge Kennedy acted unreasonably in the matter, it was argued.

Prior to imposing sentence, Judge Kennedy was told in mitigation Mr Rostas was destitute, received no social welfare, his only form of income was through the goodwill of others from begging and any money he got was used to buy food.

It was argued Judge Kennedy erred in law and exceeded his jurisdiction in fining Mr Rostas as that ensured he would serve a custodial term of eight days more than the maximum period of one month permissible under law for a begging offence.

Ruling on the challenge, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said he would quash both the conviction and sentence and give full reasons for his decision later in a written judgment.