A judge has called on the new justice minister ‘to take a close look at the cases that come before this court as the revolving door approach’ is not working.
District Judge Barney McElholm made the comment as Damien Joseph Young, who has 298 convictions, appeared before the local magistrate’s court.
Young assaulted two people on the same day he had been released from prison.
The 49-year-old, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to two charges of common assault on May 24.
The court heard police were called to the bus depot on Foyle Street because Young was intoxicated and causing a nuisance.
Officers found him lying up against a door in Shipquay Street. As they helped him up a bus pulled up and the driver reported that Young had assaulted two passengers.
The court was told the man and woman were waiting for their bus in the depot, when Young came up behind them and started shouting.
Members of the public tried to get him to move on but he elbowed the man in the face.
He also struck the woman on the back of the head.
The injured party’s did not sustain any injuries in the assault.
It was revealed Young had been released from Magilligan Prison earlier that day and had consumed six cans of super strength lager on the train.
He was highly intoxicated and during police interview said he could not remember the assaults.
Defence solicitor, Seamus Quigley, said his client has an ‘appalling problem with alcohol’ and rather than deal with it is ‘foisting it upon the court, the police and the criminal justice system’.
He said that the last time Young appeared in court he asked for an 18 month sentence, in the hope that it ‘might cure him of his problems’.
The solicitor accepted this ‘didn’t work and when he got out yesterday the first thing he did was go and buy alcohol’.
Passing sentence, Judge McElholm said he would remand Young to somewhere where he would have to ‘undergo compulsory treatment for his addiction’ if such an institution existed.
However, he said ‘I think this man is now probably beyond treatment’.
The judge said this case highlights the fact that ‘whoever is the new justice minister should really look at the cases that come before this court’.
‘The majority of them involve drink or drug addiction and involve people with mental health issues. There is a problem to be solved at this level of court. The present revolving door approach of short sentences really aren’t doing anything and the money would be better spent in other directions’.
The judge suspended a five month sentence for two years.
He also ordered Young to pay £200 compensation to each of the victims.