SEVENTEEN men who admitted solictiting undercover gardai during an operation targeting prostitution in the city have avoided a conviction after their cases were struck out at Limerick District Court.
Each of the men were arrested late last year during Operation Freewheel, which targeted on-street prostitution in parts of the city centre including Mallow Street, Barrington Street, Catherine Street and Pery Square.
More than 30 men later appeared in court charged under Section 7 of the Criminal Law Sexual Offences Act. Although a number of cases are to be contested in the coming weeks, most of those arrested pleaded guilty.
Previously Judge Eamon O’Brien indicated he would strike out cases if the defendant made a €470 donation to Doras Luimni.
A total of 24 cases came before the court for review yesterday and in 17 of them the judge was told that the money had been paid and receipts were produced to the court.
Noting this, the judge struck out the charges as each of the cases were called.
One of the 24 men who was listed to appear before the court was not present in court when his case was called.
Sgt Michelle Leahy, Henry Street, told the court the defendant, who has an address in County Clare, had not paid the money to Doras Luimni and Judge Eamon O’Brien issued a bench warrant for his arrest.
In another case, the court was told that a man with an address in Raheen had also not paid the money to the organisation, which supports those who are involved in the sex industry.
The defendant was fined €700 after he was formally convicted of the charge by the judge.
Three of the cases before the court yesterday were adjourned until April 26 next for hearing and two other cases were adjourned until March 28.
In relation to the contested cases, Judge O’Brien said he would require any legal submissions from either the prosecution or defence to be made in writing in advance of the hearing date.