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Thursday, 21st November 2002
"First poitín haul of season puts judge in nostalgic mood"
JUDGE John Garavan took a nostalgic trip down memory lane at Tuam Court on Friday when he was dealing with a local man who was found with five litres of poitín in his car.
The Judge told the Court that he remembered a time when every sitting in Connemara would have several such cases but it was so rare nowadays that he could hardly recall the fine.
He remembered that the fine had once been £6 for possession and then it was raised to the not insignificant sum of £12 before a major crackdown eight or nine years ago saw it jump to £1,000.
In the spirit of the season approaching, he told prosecuting Garda Ann OConnor that he would understand if some of the illicit brew evaporated in her care, especially if she was in the middle of preparing her Christmas cakes.
The haul came to light when Adrian McManus of Ballymoat, Tuam was arrested on suspicion of being drunk in charge of a vehicle at Newtownmorris on January 18th last.
Garda OConnor came across the defendant and another man sitting in a car which had its lights on and engine running. When he saw her he turned off the engine and put the keys in his pocket. She arrested him and conveyed him to Tuam Garda station where he refused to give a sample of his breath.
On being searched a small quantity of cannabis was found on his possession. At this stage he told the Gardai So you found me with a bit of hash adding that there was a bottle of poitín out in his car and they could have that too if they wanted.
A search of the car revealed the five litre container of poitín and a sample sent to the Gárda forensic science laboratory confirmed that it was the real thing.
Sean Acton solr. (defending) said that his client had purchased the poitín for €30 some months before he was caught with it but hadnt touched a drop.
He explained that his client lived a mile from where he was found in his van by Garda OConnor. He had parked his van there on his way into town and had no intention of driving it home later. As it happened it was lashing rain when he was walking home so he sat into the van for shelter with a friend. A neighbour who became suspicious of the two men in the van called the Gardaí.
Judge Garavan put him off the road for two years for failing to give a sample of breath when requested and fined his €200. For possession of cannabis a fine of €100 was imposed. However, he showed leniency in the case of the poitín, as he never got to sample it, and reduced the fine from €1,270 to €320.