Attempt To Shut Down Dissent Shut Down

Posted: December 8, 2009 in In Court
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

On Monday the 7th of December, Mr Robert Ševcik was in the Richmond Court to conclude a marathon hearing that had spilled into a second day. Mr. Ševcik an animal rights activist and a vegan, was answering to four charges, ranging from threatening, insulting and abusive behaviour, under the Public Order Act, to failing to produce his passport upon demand, under the Immigration Act. All of these charges arose out of a protest at Barnado’s Furriers on Grafton st. close to the Molly Malone statue, on the 18th of October, 2008.

It was a case littered with perjury, a missing garda sergeant and a mysterious garda inspector. Nonetheless, at the end of the case, the judge accepted Mr Ševcik’s evidence and he walked out of the court, with each and every charge dismissed.

VegaPlanet: http://www.vegaplanet.org/
Aliberation: http://aliberation.vegaplanet.org/

Garda David Walsh

How long shall we continue to allow this rotten State continue its attempt at snuffing out the most basic and fundamental of rights?

Three activists ran at Ms Barnado, an aging dear, as she locked up her shop. They began to scream and rage at her, right into her face. She was terrified.

Garda Walsh almost couldn’t believe his eyes. That didn’t stop the garda from switching to automatic, as he hurtled into the rapidly developing situation, without even a thought towards his own safety. Close to him, he noticed that Sergeant Costello, who must have had similar urges, was running towards the entrance of the shop and the situation also. They were both running from behind a line of protesters, the ones who hadn’t run at the owner of Barnado’s Furriers.

That was garda Walsh’s take on what happened: Three protesters run at woman. Sergeant Costello and Garda Walsh approach from behind the line of protesters. He swore it under oath and he did so a number of times, as he was cross-examined by Mr Robert Ševcik, the defendant. In other words, Garda Walsh swore that Sergeant Costello was a liar. Of course, Garda Walsh was also perjuring himself.

Sergeant Costello had a completely different tale to tell. He was with Ms Barnado when the three made their move. He was in the process of taking a complaint from her. He’d stepped between the frail lady and the worst of the three, Mr Ševcik, and asked him and the other two to go away. But Mr Ševcik wasn’t having any of it, he had nothing to say and he was going to bellow it at the frightened old dear some more. At this point, according to the sergeant, the lower ranking Walsh arrived, and made the same request that he had just made. But Rob ignores them both, one after the other, and resumes shouting into Ms Barnado’s face. (Either Rob must have shoved his head right through the sergeant’s chest, as he was apparently between Rob and Ms Barnado, or else, both gardaí moved aside, to facilitate Rob’s access to his alleged victim.)

Unfortunately for Mr Ševcik, Rob, he couldn’t go into Sergeant Costello’s evidence and confront Garda Walsh with it, as the Sergeant wasn’t present at the hearing. All Rob had was the Sergeant’s garda statement, given to him as part of a precis of evidence. Unfortunately (for the truth), the court rules do not permit such evidence to be admitted or disclosed, in a situation where the garda who produced it is unavailable for the hearing.

We’re not in court now though.

I might be getting ahead of myself, so I’ll go back to a beginning…

Robert Ševcik walked into the Richmond courtroom, followed by his McKenzie Friend, me. The pale young Austrian had a lot of weight on his shoulders. This case had been listed for hearing on a number of occasions, but had been put off each time, to the objections of Rob. We didn’t know whether it was going to go ahead or not. Rob had missed a fair bit of work, due to his frequent and quite useless but necessary visits to court on this issue (necessary in the sense that if he’d missed a single sitting, or if he’d been sufficiently late, a bench warrant would have issued, at the least). His witnesses had missed work too, though it was fewer times. Bosses were angry etc. Sometimes this far from subtle aspect of closing down dissent is missed. It is never missed by those who have to go through it. Even nastier, the fact that a defendant must put his or her friends and witnesses through the same yoke is very traumatic. At least that’s what it feels like. It’s a mechanism that quite obviously would tend to sunder what’s left of a group after the gardaí have first harassed a group and bled it dry of comrades and any potential new blood.

Rob’s friends stood shoulder to shoulder with him. They’re not going to fall to their knees and give up their right to meet in public and their right to engage with that same public. That option just isn’t on the table.

Anyway, couple that with us getting off to a really bad start. There were two cases, both of them covering similar allegations and similar sets of charges. We’d initially prepared to fight these two cases nearly a year before. The presiding judge split the two cases and put one of them back to next February, considering that there wasn’t a hope of having the time to hear them both, something that Rob had pointed out to a judge, near the beginning of this ordeal, but he’d been ignored. That was the beginning of our problems, this separation of the two cases, though we didn’t realise it at the time. We’d prepared for both cases very differently. In one case Rob was going to forensically tear the State’s case apart, and there’d be no motions to dismiss at the start. In the other, Rob was going to start out by making two motions, one after the other, each for dismissal. The judge moved the one that Rob was prepared to tear apart. Don’t get me wrong, Rob was prepared to pull both cases apart, it’s just that the movement itself caused a problem for the unmoved case, that neither of us had spotted. There was a mysterious garda inspector present during Rob’s arrest, indeed there’s video footage of him, with his hands on Rob as Rob is being lead away in handcuffs. The same inspector was present during the arrest of Rob that facilitated the moved trial also. We believe that the inspector might be a witness in the case that got moved. He was in court anyway. But he didn’t come back after the lunch break. A little surprise had been planned for the inspector. Rob was going to call him as a witness. One of two things would have resulted. If Rob had been refused, he would have moved to dismiss based upon the fact that Garda Walsh had failed to gather available and important evidence. The other possibility was way more interesting, Rob would have got to examine (possibly as a hostile witness) a garda inspector who probably didn’t have time to come up with a reasonable line of bullshit that agreed with the bullshit of the State’s other two witnesses (which was an impossibility as their stories didn’t agree either), if he decided to shovel shite, he’d have to improvise it as he went along.

Anyway, that went a bit pear shaped. Pity…

Not to worry though, Rob is looking forwards to having a long and interesting chat with the inspector in the witness box, in February.

There was another problem with the case. Garda Walsh claimed to have provided this problem under oath, but he was perjuring himself. The protester with the video camera, Ed Long, was forced to leave the area shortly before the festivities kicked off. Walsh claimed multiple times that he was the garda who directed Ed away, under the public order act for threatening and abusive behaviour. This was a lie of course, Walsh did not direct Ed, he did not explain the consequences to Ed, for refusing to follow such instructions and of course Ed was not directed away for threatening and abusive behaviour (As Walsh swore under oath). Ed captured the real story on camera. It was another Garda, a garda Tuite, who had demanded that Ed leave the area. Ed gave the camera to Tom McSherry, a soft spoken gentleman, before he left. When the festivities kicked off, all the protesters were surprised as they thought that the gardaí had had their fun, with the sending away of Mr Long. Not so this time.

The fun began when Sergeant Costello assaulted a young woman, A Ms Chojnacka. This assault was quickly followed up by Rob’s arrest. Tom managed to grab a few seconds of footage that shows Rob being lead away, shows that the shutters of Barnado’s Furriers are closed and shows Ms Chojnacka, having her details taken.

This is all fact. The judge at the end of the trial said that she accepted Mr Ševcik’s evidence, that it was the only clarity to be had in the trial.

So as can be seen, Rob went into court with lots of video evidence. But no footage of the actual events that resulted in his arrest.

To add insult to injury, Garda Walsh claimed to have demanded identification from Rob at the garda station,under the Immigration act (that said, in the charge sheet, it is claimed that this request happened at the scene, on Grafton st.). That coupled with the fact that Rob was also charged under the Public Order Act, Section 24, for not identifying himself, gives us an interesting scenario. Double jeopardy, Irish style, where both issues are tried at the same time.

It was shortly after the judge had asked Rob if he intended to put a motion to the court, to avail of myself as his McKenzie friend, that we knew we were in trouble. Not immediately mind you. Not until after Rob had informed the Court that he didn’t need to make such a motion, that he had already decided, himself, that he was going to use a McKenzie. It was just after this that we noted that most of the case law that we’d prepared, was either missing or incomplete. Maddeningly, the case law that provides for Mr Ševcik’s right to determine himself, as to whether he requires a McKenzie Friend or not was missing, well, we had the bit up to where it mentions a McKenzie Friend, but it was truncated from there. Shit!!

The Judge was incredibly kind and understanding, even the DPP gave. She said that she had no problem whatsoever with Mr Ševcik being helped with the presentation of his case. This was the first of the moves that the DPP’s representative made, that unconditionally shows her to be ethical and incredibly fair. The judge too must be praised. Fairness, understanding and latitude describe her. She gave Rob the time and the scope to develop his case and eventually, to utterly destroy the State’s case.

Couple all of this, with the fact that the Judge refused Rob’s first application to strike the matter, as Garda Walsh had delivered part of a precis at 2.30am in the morning. We’d had a similar application accepted by a different judge recently see http://www.indymedia.ie/article/93510. But the judge in this case would not accept the argument, saying that a precis is not an official document of the court and that she ensures all the time, that prosecuting gardaí deliver such paperwork. She said that Court Documents required service. Rob pointing out to the judge that he had a video of Garda Walsh asking him to sign a declaration of service for this late night delivery, didn’t dissuade her. Judges differ, what can you do? Interestingly, had Rob wanted to complain to Garda Walsh’s sergeant, about this overtly threatening late night visit, he could have just walked down from his house to the squad car, and made his complaint to Garda Walsh’s chauffeur and Sergeant.

Rob’s other motion, we didn’t have case law or a copy of the District Court rules, so a balls was made of same.

How did Rob destroy the State’s case?

By not doing what was expected of him of course. He was expected to put it to the State’s witnesses that they were talking shite, with regard to the alleged abuse of Ms Barnado. And indeed he was supposed to put it to Garda Walsh, that he hadn’t demanded Rob’s identification under the Immigration act. Both the judge and the DPP remarked on this a number of times during the trial.

Rob had a different plan. If he couldn’t prove something that never happened, and indeed something that his video footage didn’t cover, then he wasn’t going to waste his breath. He was going to show that the sworn testimonies of both the State’s witnesses didn’t agree with each other, with the video evidence or the testimony provided by Rob and his witnesses. Why should he put it to either, that they were talking shite, when he could have them effectively put it to each other, sullying themselves in the process.

Reasonable doubt. Very reasonable.

To cut a seven or eight hour story short, allow me to post Mr Ševcik’s final statement. Even the decent DPP said that she’d not put an answer to it.

Mr Ševcik’s closing statement and argument
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

The contradictions in the evidence before the court, and this is ever before one considers Sgt Costello’s statement, are such that the court cannot or reasonably return, a verdict of guilt.

Ms Barnado:

Ms Barnado says two feet is the distance between the entrance of the shop and the protesters when she exits the shop.

Ms Barnado says that the three protesters did not run at her. But that they immediately approached her when she came out of the shop.

Ms Barnado cannot remember having spoken to Sergeant Costello, after exiting the shop and prior to the alleged approach of the three protesters.

Ms Barnado cannot remember Sgt Costello being in the 2 foot gap with herself and the elusive Ms Corbet, when the three allegedly came at her. And she cannot of course remember the sergeant coming between her and the advancing three in that two foot gap. Judge, I cannot exploit this point to its potential and will leave it at that.

Ms Barnado Says that the camera outside the shop was purchased sometime after the day in question and most definitely had not been outside the shop on the day in question.

Ms Barnado has said in evidence, that eventhough she claims that the protesters have escalated the threat and abuse level of their protests over 18 months or so, and that she has been making complaints to the Gardaí, the whole time, that she has never once used her existing video equipment, two cameras at least point to where she claims most of the alleged threatening and abuse happens, to record and substantiate her claims for either the gardaí or the courts. She would rather use the safety and the privilege of the witness box to defame the protesters. This is despite the fact, that in evidence, she said that she’d do whatever it takes to protect her customers. When asked to elaborate upon what she’d be willing to do, she refused to answer.

Ms Barnado in evidence, said that she made complaints to the gardaí, on the day in question, about threatening and abusive signs and threatening and abusive behaviour with regard to the protesters. However, she was unable to give a single example of anything threatening or abusive about the signs. Furthermore and much more importantly, she in evidence, claimed that it was both the volume and the actions of the protesters that gave rise to her allegations of threatening and abusive behaviour.

Ms Barnado said in evidence that the gardaí, prior to going into the shop, to take her complaint, moved the protesters back from the front of the shop, but they moved back after the gardaí had left. This is a blatant untruth. The gardaí did not move the protesters back, prior to going into the shop. Furthermore, the gardaí did not leave the area and the protesters, who had at no point been lined up 2 feet from from the front of the shop, did not advance on the shop and come to a halt two feet from the front of it. Indeed, from the vidoe footage, when the two gardaí exit the shop, they along with Mr Long, walk between the shop and the protesters, over to the Grafton st side of the shop. They stop there and start to talk with Mr Long and another gentleman with a camera. Even then, people are observed to walk between this group and the shop. Thus, the protesters, at all times are more than 2 feet from the entrance of the shop, indeed, at all times they are more than the 4 or 5 feet from the shop that the garda has sworn a number of times, was the distance.

Ms Barnado insists that Ms Corbet was with her when she exited the shop. Despite the fact that it would be improbable that Ms Barnado could or would, exit the shop, if there were only 2 feet space for her to advance into, it would be physically impossible for two people to exit under these circumstances. We can show that Ms Corbet left long before Ms Barnado. On top of that, the court should not believe that the protesters were anywhere close to the shop entrance. Afterall, there were at least four gardaí present, one an inspector, another a sergeant and two uniformed gardaí, indeed one protester, the one who’d been using a camera had already been directed away under sections 8 and 9 (obstruction) of the POA act.

Garda:

The Garda said that there was no public order offence taking place when he entered the shop, contrary to the evidence of Ms Barnado.

Garda insists that he took a complaint from Ms Barnado yet admits that he wrote nothing in his notebook. He also admits that not producing a notebook to record a complaint, when one is being given, is “unusual.”

Garda insists that he was the one who directed Mr Long away under section 6 and 8 of the public order act. Mr Long’s name and address were taken, yet the garda has no record of this in his notebook. Video evidence shows that this garda did not direct Mr Long and shows that the garda that did, recorded Mr Long’s details in his notebook.

The garda defines an “intimate” or a “personal zone,” as being about a two foot radius around a person. He insists that protesters were 4 to 5 feet from the shop at all times. He said that when Ms Barnado walked out of the shop, that three protesters ran at her. Protesters would have been within Ms Barnado’s intimate zone, the moment she left the shop and running towards her would have been impossible.

Garda insists that himself and Sergeant Costello approached the protesters from behind. Yet when asked where he was situated prior to Ms Barnado’s exit he replied that he didn’t know. Again I am prejudiced in my defence as I cannot use the evidence of Sergeant Costello to fully refute this version of events.

The garda said that he had procured Sgt Costello’s statement as part of his investigation. He indicated that the mass of contradictions between his evidence and Sgt Costello’s statement was someone else’s problem, rather than his. I’m confident in my belief that the garda wishes it to be my problem.

Video Evidence:

Video evidence shows that there was a camera outside the shop on the day in question, contrary to Ms Barnado’s evidence.

Video evidence shows that the protesters were neither lined up 2 feet from the shop nor 4 or 5 at any time, contrary to the sworn testimony of both the State’s witnesses.

Video evidence shows that the garda did not take Mr Long’s details and explains why the Garda did not record Mr Long’s details in his notebook. These details were recorded in the notebook of the garda that actually dealt with Mr Long.

Video evidence shows that Mr Long was not directed away from the area for threatening and abusive behaviour, contrary to the sworn testimony of the garda, he was directed away for allegedly obstructing the shop entrance.

Video evidence shows Ms Corbet leaving the shop at least 10 minutes prior to the shop being closed.

Video evidence shows a garda defining the “immediate area” as Dublin 2, with regard to directing Mr Long to leave the immediate area.

Video evidence shows a garda telling Mr Long that lawful excuse is not catered for in the Public Order Act.

Video evidence shows that prior to the gardaí entering the shop, they did not move the protesters back or direct them in any way, contrary to Ms Barnado’s evidence.

Video evidence shows the prosecuting garda saying to Mr Long that all the protesters had been directed to leave the area. The video evidence shows this to be far from the truth.

Finally, the video evidence shows that the shutters of the shop were down at the time of my arrest. This is significant, in that the evidence of the State’s two witnesses argues that I was interfering with Ms Barnado whilst she was trying to close the shop. One can only wonder how the shutters came to be locked, with no sign of Ms Barnado, at the time of my arrest.

Ms Chojnacka’s Evidence:

Ms Chojnacka said that Sgt Costello had assaulted her when Ms Barnado exited the shop and that this was the incident that lead to my arrest. This has not been contradicted by any evidence or by any other means, therefore it stands as an undisputed fact.

Ms Chojnacka’s evidence puts Sgt Costello between the protesters and Ms Barnado as she exited the shop. This is contrary to the prosecuting garda’s sworn testimony and again, I’m prejudiced, by not being in a position to fully develop and explore this contradiction.

Ms Chojnacka’s evidence stated that Ms Barnado, upon exiting the shop, walked towards members of the gardaí, who were standing outside the shop, over on the left hand side and that no protester approached.

Aga stated that eventhough she had had her details taken that day, that she had neither approached nor run at Ms Barnado. She said her details were taken after she had complained about Sgt Costello pushing her.

Mr Long’s Evidence:

Mr Long said that protesters had not been directed to move back at any time prior to his leaving the area.

Mr Long, with his video evidence proved that there was a camera outside the shop, contrary to Ms Barnado’s evidence.

Mr Long’s testimony along with the agreeing video evidence, proves that the prosecuting garda is a stranger to the truth with regard to his insisting, multiple times under cross examination, that he had been the one who had directed Mr Long away from the area.

Mr Long proved that the prosecuting garda was a stranger to the truth with regard to his insisting that Mr Long had been directed away from the area for threatening and abusive behaviour.

Mr Long with his video evidence established two others things. Ms Corbet had left the shop before Mr Long left the area and before it was closed. He also established that prior to my arrest, I was wearing a backpack. This backpack is not recorded in the custody record. I shall talk more about this significant detail shortly.

The first witness, Ms Barnado, said that she would do “whatever it takes” to protect her customers.

The first witness also avoided the truth in her claims about when the camera outside the store was first put there. She was adamant that this camera was not purchased until after this alleged event.

I say that securing video footage of allegedly illegal activities would secure this protection that the witness so reasonably declares she wants to and will provide. One would reasonably conclude that this was one of the purposes that these cameras were purchased for in the first instance – to detect crime and to serve as evidence of that crime.

It was not my claim that the witness has such a duty of care – the witness herself has forcefully declared it.

Yet, she claims that illegal activities – unlawful protests, threatening, insulting and abusive protests (she claims to embrace lawful protest) – have been occurring and indeed escalating for a period of about 18 months.

This points to one of two conclusions:

i. That the witness cares not a jot for her business or her customers and that the expensive video cameras are merely decoration, that might at some undisclosed and incomprehensible time in the distant future, possibly act as a deterrent.

Or:

ii. That the video cameras have not once recorded a single unlawful act for more than 18 months of protest and public communication.

To add substance to the second point, the garda witness has discredited the first witness’ opinion as to what constitutes an offence. She claims that many offences were taking place as the gardaí entered her shop. The garda had to reluctantly admit that there were no such offences. Indeed the garda’s reluctance, amongst many other things, itself points to an emotional attachment that has clouded this trial. As well as the first witness’ opinion being shown for what it is, her honesty is also brought into question. She claimed that protesters had been directed by the gardaí prior to entering the shop. The garda rightly, for once, told the truth (the video evidence also shows this).

As for the garda’s evidence: The garda claims to have performed his duty with two protesters on the day in question, with regard to section 6 of the Public Order Act. 50% of this claim has been shown via video evidence, to be an utter and a blatant fabrication. In 50% of this claim, it has been shown that section 6 of the Public Order Act played no part. This cannot be disputed. On top of this, the garda has not told the truth, he claimed repeatedly that he was the person who directed Mr Long. As for the other 50% of this garda’s claims, we only have his word on it. One might be tempted to suggest that the first witness is in agreement with the garda on this point. However, this is far from the case. The positions of people, their momentum and many other descriptions that are necessary to paint a picture of what did or didn’t happen, are all in dispute, between the two witnesses. The first witness, when asked what had been shouted at her, by the three protesters and then the one protester, couldn’t tell us. She went on to suggest that what was said wasn’t the issue. She claimed that volume and proximity were the issues. With the garda we fared no better. As usual, he unusually failed to produce his notebook and record what was allegedly said. Indeed we have four police officers at this scene, we have gardaí, we have a sergeant and we have an inspector. And we have not the beginnings of a clue as to what was allegedly said. The court is expected to believe that three people rushed a lady advancing in her years, in plain sight of four police officers and started screaming at her incoherently, and that I, having been spoken to twice, by two different officers, was allowed to and went straight back to screaming right in her face. I’d honestly suggest, that had this been the initial description of my alleged crime, that at the very least, the honourable district Court would not have accepted jurisdiction, and would have wondered aloud, why the other two alleged lunatics were not arrested and prosecuted. But of course this was not the initial picture painted for the Court. This is what one is left with though, when one examines it. I say that it is the evidence itself, in this case, that is screaming insanely, without words or reason.

There is plenty of Doubt here, and all of it is reasonable. The prosecution, to quote R V Shippey: “cannot pick the plums and leave the duff,” the difference in this case being that it’s hard to distinguish a single plum. The prosecution has asked the Court to drink this watery soup and has provided a fork to accomplish it.

To compound all of this even further, there was another garda witness, whose statement has been provided to me as a part of a precis, but he himself was not provided for me to cross examine. This further prejudices me. Eventhough I say that this statement is as fictional as the other differing accounts we have heard, it would have facilitated me in attacking the prosecution’s case with even more of its own incredible and contradictory evidence. I say this fact on its own, on the balance of probabilities, a much lesser standard than ‘beyond reasonable doubt,’ means that I’m disabled in my defence, to the point of unfairness.

I say that this Court cannot, in good conscience, cherrypick a pathway through this mire, merely to see me in the worst light.

Finally, I must deal with the charges against me under the Immigration Act. There are three reasons as to why these charges should fail. Firstly there is a conflict of evidence. I say that I was not asked to produce identification under any Act, that it was to do with ensuring that I had not given false details. The garda says that I was asked under the Act, though he admits that he did so, to further the Public Order investigation. I spoke earlier of my backpack. Eventhough I was unaware of the specific legislation regarding my having to carry suitable identification, I was well aware that I had to carry such identification. My backpack did not make it to the custody record. My passport was in it. I say that the gardaí have misused their powers in how they have used this law. They’ve taken a shield and have turned it into a crude club. It could only have been worse if they’d dragged me from my bed, taken me to a station, and then, and only then, demanded that I produce my identification, under this Act.

To compound the issue further, my bag and passport, were tracked down by my friends and my passport was presented to the garda prior to my release, indeed my release was dependent upon it. At the very very least, I say that if the Judge decides to take these two charges seriously, then I have provided a very reasonable excuse for not having my identification immediately when it was required. I did not have it because the gardaí separated me from it, prior to demanding it.

The second reason these set of charges should fail is quite straight forward. Garda Walsh, under cross examination, admitted that he asked for my passport to further the investigation into the alleged public order offences. It follows that if there were no such offences, that there would be no logical or ethical reason to investigate them further.

The third reason is the most poignant. On the one hand, I’m being prosecuted for not identifying myself to the garda, under the Public Order Act. On the other hand I’m being prosecuted under the Immigration Act, because I failed to identify myself to a garda, to facilitate his investigation as to why I didn’t identify myself under the Public Order Act. This is a classic example of Double Jeopardy, with one missing element. The trying of this issue does not follow the trying of the other issue in a separate case. These two issues are being tried together at the same time. However, it is my argument, that the moment the Court comes to a determination regarding the Public Order matters, Double Jeopardy is immediately present should the Court move to consider the Immigration Act charges.

That concludes my closing arguments. Thank you Judge.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

The courtroom was silent for a few moments after this.

The judge, said something that surprised even an old cynic like me. She said that she accepted Rob’s evidence.

She accepted that Rob had been arrested by Sergeant Costello. (Of course, had she read the sergeant’s statement, she’d have know that Costello too had claimed that Garda Walsh had been the arresting office).

She went on to tell Mr Ševcik and the rest of the court about “flash points,” and about the hard time gardaí have in policing public order. She said that she hadn’t even realised that there’d been an inspector present, until Rob had said so. This is not quite correct, Rob had gotten that fact out of Garda Walsh, shortly after he’d been turned of to Rob for cross-examination. Hey judges are human too, no biggie.

It was at this point that judge undone all the good work that she’d achieved thus far, and it was considerable. When Rob had testified, he’d said that he’d been on one end of the protest line and Aga, Ms Chojnacka had been at the other end. He said that when she’d been assaulted, he’d made his way to her side, to ensure that she was okay. He said that he’d ignored the sergeant (as opposed to putting him on his arse, I presume) and had followed Aga as she was taken about three yards away by two gardaí, who were demanding that she identify herself, to see what the issue was.

He said that Sergeant Costello had come up to him and demanded that he leave the area immediately under Section 8 of the Public Order Act. Rob produced a copy of the Act, handed it to the Sergeant and asked him to point out what it was that he had done, and what section of the Act, facilitated the Sergeant’s demands. The Sergeant ignored the paper and the request and demanded Rob’s details. Rob demanded his property back and had his arm ripped behind his back, for his troubles and was then arrested, by the sergeant, not Garda Walsh, who’d played no part in this whatsoever.

The judged after putting much emphasis on Rob having ignored the sergeant and even more on his not having immediately complied with the sergeant’s unsubstantiated demands, dismissed under the probation act, the charges. On faith she did this. In the belief, that because there was an inspector present, that the situation must have been tense and the protesters must have been responsible for it. I don’t begrudge her this faith. But I do not appreciate it. The only evidence of this flash point that was before the court, was the assault on Ms Chojnacka. Plus as I’ve said, Costello also claims that he was not the arresting officer.

She also dismissed the Immigration Act charges, stating that it was a misunderstanding and that Rob had produced his passport.

Rob left the courtroom with no criminal record whatsoever. But the probation act has left a bad taste in all our mouths.

We’ll get to examine the very same “misunderstanding” next February.

On the 15th, next week, in the brand new courts at the Phoenix Park. Ms Chojnacka, will go head to head with a garda from the Clontarf garda station, where she hopes to vindicate the right to free speech and public assembly. Plenty of video evidence to be had at this one too.

In closing I want to put my respect for Rob on the record. Even when, on the first day of this trial and things looked bleak. He held to his faith, in himself. He worked slowly and assuredly and achieved victory. Now there’s a faith that I can appreciate.

Rob (in the tie) and friends after his victory

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