Derry District Judge, Mr. Barney McElholm, has expressed frustration at the lack of appropriate facilities for people who suffer from serious addiction problems.
His comments came while remanding in custody a young man whose solicitor fears will drink himself to death if he doesn’t overcome his alcoholism.
Paul Farren (27), of Sackville Court, was remanded in custody to await a Pre-Sentence report following incidences of disorderly and indecent behaviour and an assault on police over the past fortnight.
Judge McElholm commented: “Once again those who claim to govern this place need to realise that prison is not geared up to deal with addicts. What is the court to do? I can remand him in custody and he’ll be out in a couple of months to no end.”
During a bail application at Derry Magistrate’s Court on Friday a Public Prosecution Service solicitor explained how on May 22, 2017, Farren was arrested following an incident at the Foyle Haven in John Street during which he became disorderly, told police to f**k off, exposed his genitals in the street, and struck a police officer on the side of the head.
The court heard that last Thursday afternoon Farren again became aggressive towards police while he was being arrested for urinating in the foyer of a Property Link premises on Strand Road area.
Farren’s defence solicitor explained that Farren suffered from a serious alcohol problem. “To an extent it is not a surprise that he has developed an alcohol problem. The truth is he was probably born with one,” he said. “He has struggled with alcohol despite the fact that he is only 27, for 15 years.” Mr. Quigley said it was difficult to understand why Farren had decided to urinate in a public place just around the corner from where he lived.
“It’s very difficult to say why he didn’t go the 100 yards from the Victoria car park, where he was drinking, to his flat,” he noted.
The court heard Farren suffers from a number from medical issues and that that does not mix well with “7.5 lager and Buckfast.”
“This defendant is really drinking himself to death. My concern is that the absence of drink could kill him, such was the extent of his DTs when I visited him in the cell,” he added.
Judge McElholm said prison was not the place for addicts but said he had no option but to remand Farren in custody. “Even with the best will in the world if he takes drink to the flat, we know he won’t stay there. On utilitarian principles alone I won’t release him on bail.”
Farren was remanded in custody with a Pre-Sentence Report ordered for July.