Judge 'gobsmacked' as State witness goes on holiday

Thursday 24 July 2014 17.38
A special sitting of Mullingar Circuit Court could not proceed in May as a State witness was on holiday
A special sitting of Mullingar Circuit Court could not proceed in May as a State witness was on holiday

A judge has said he was "gobsmacked" by the attitude of a forensic scientist who went on holiday when he was due to appear as a State witness in a drugs trial.

Judge Tony Hunt at Mullingar Circuit Court said it was "disgraceful, inappropriate and unfair" that the witness had gone on holiday while the accused languished in custody.

Christopher Lacey, 46, was due to be tried in May for possession of €360,000 of cannabis, cocaine and amphetamine for sale or supply at his home in 2009.

The offence carries a minimum mandatory sentence of ten years on conviction.

In May a special sitting of Mullingar Circuit Court could not proceed with the trial because a forensic scientist employed by the State's Forensic Science Laboratory had gone on holiday and ignored the summons.

When the case appeared before Judge Hunt again last week, he was said he extremely annoyed that extra resources assigned to the Mullingar Circuit Court had been wasted.

These included extra court sittings and an extra judge to deal with a large backlog of cases.

He adjourned the case for a week to consider a request by Mr Lacey's defence team to strike the case out on the basis that their client remained in custody because the State had denied his right to an early trial.

This morning Judge Hunt said he was "gobsmacked" by the attitude of the forensic scientist, who he said had effectively made a rude gesture to the court, and he was very displeased at what had emerged after he had arranged an early trial for Mr Lacey in a busy list.

He remanded Mr Lacey in continuing custody for trial in October and ordered that he be given all necessary treatment at Cloverhill Prison for a back injury he sustained in a car accident last year.