Judge tells man to make pilgrimage for abusing garda


A DISTRICT judge has told a Donegal man who used foul language to a member of the Garda that he has a month to travel to Co Mayo and make the pilgrimage to the top of Croagh Patrick.

At Milford District Court in Letterkenny on Monday Judge Séamus Hughes told Joseph McElwee (38) of Aughavennan, Rathmullan, Co Donegal, he was to do the four stations of the famous Mayo pilgrimage as a mark of respect for his fellow Irish people, especially those in the line of duty.

Mr McElwee was charged with threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour, intoxication, disorderly conduct, wilful obstruction and failing to comply with the direction of a garda.

Judge Hughes had heard how the defendant was part of a group of three who approached two members of the Garda outside a public house in Rathmullan and began verbally abusing them on March 28th, 2010.

Garda Nicholas Freyne told the court that while they were on duty in Rathmullan, they saw a large crowd gathered outside a public house and three individuals approached them.

The court heard that the defendant called Garda Freyne a “Mayo w****r” and said “f*** off home to Mayo” continuing his abuse for 10 minutes according to the garda’s evidence.

Solicitor Kieran O’Gorman said his client was a 38-year-old unemployed joiner and father-of-two who had never been in trouble before.

Mr O’Gorman said Mr McElwee had personally apologised to Garda Freyne for his remarks.

“He was out with friends on the night and drink was the cause here,” the solicitor said.

The judge asked the defendant whether he had ever been to his native Co Mayo and climbed Croagh Patrick.

“I want you to come back in a month’s time with evidence that you did the four stations of Croagh Patrick, and say a few prayers.

“You then might have a different impression of Co Mayo and its people and it will be in recognition to your fellow Irish people especially those in the line of duty.”

The defendant’s solicitor said the public gallery may find this funny, but that Mr McElwee and his family were taking the fact that he was before court very seriously.

The judge said that he was also very serious about the issue.

“I’m sure they had a right laugh about it on March 28th. I will deal with the matter on October 11th,” he stated.

Mr O’Gorman asked the judge how his client would be able to prove that he climbed Croagh Patrick, to which Judge Hughes replied that he will have questions prepared.

“You better have the answers, and I will know whether you are telling the truth or not.”