Mr Justice John Hedigan in the High Court has described a beggar's constitutional challenge to her conviction on a public order charge as 'proposterous' and 'without merit'.
Carmen Ilie (20), a native of Romania with an address at Cabra Park, Dublin, was convicted of wilfully obstructing a female passerby in Dublin city centre late at night.
Mr Justice John Hedigan said the judicial review proceedings on behalf of Ms Ilie were “unstateable” given the evidence.Ms Ilie attempted to argue that begging was constitutionally protected free expression:The case arose from a decision by District Court Judge Mary Collins in December 2009 to convict Ms Ilie of an offence under Section 9 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 after she admitted blocking a person’s free passage on Aston Quay, Dublin, on August 22nd, 2009.
A garda gave evidence he saw Ms Ilie pull on the woman’s handbag strap.
Judge Collins sentenced Ms Ilie to be bound to the peace on condition she stay outside the Temple Bar area. After Ms Ilie refused to enter into that bond, the judge imposed a €200 fine.
The judge decided that he didn't have to hear from lawyers for the DPP; he believed that the plaintiff's case was so poor that he dismissed it without the other side having to give evidence.If the facts of the case could amount to an offence under Section 9, it was also submitted Ms Ilie was entitled to defend the charge on grounds of her constitutional right of freedom of expression in the course of begging. It was argued a person has a constitutional right to beg and the purpose of Section 9 was to prevent people blocking roads with barriers or protests.
'Preposterous' begging case dismissed - The Irish Times - Thu, Oct 21, 2010