Former pub licence holder ‘can’t pay’ late opening fines

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

A LIMERICK man fined €1,000 for liquor licensing breaches has told the Circuit Court he is out of work and unable to pay the reduced penalties of €600 imposed at a Circuit Court appeal.

A LIMERICK man fined €1,000 for liquor licensing breaches has told the Circuit Court he is out of work and unable to pay the reduced penalties of €600 imposed at a Circuit Court appeal.

Joe Larkin, 31, of Rathjordan, Herbertstown, conceded that while he was technically the licensee when gardai raided the Irish House Sports Bar on Nicholas Street at 12.50am on May 28 last, he was effectively an employee at the time.

Judge Carroll Moran adjourned the case for two weeks after state solicitor Michael Murray suggested Mr Larkin approach the current licensee, Mark Heffernan Senior, to help pay the fines if he wanted to avoid having the pub licence endorsed.

Mr Murray said the premises had been “problematic from a garda management point of view” over the years.

“This is a difficult licensed premises in terms of its location and clientele and is not an easy place to run,” he said.

It was “colloquially known as Dick Devane’s” but had also traded under various different names, including The Mucky Duck. The premises had been leased to a succession of tenants, some of whom had been convicted for licensing offences.

Last November, Mr Larkin had been fined a total of €1,000 at Limerick District Court in respect of three offences, namely keeping the pub open after hours on May 28, selling alcohol outside of permitted times and permitting drunkenness on the premises.

Garda Sean O’Hagan had told Judge Eugene O’Kelly that loud music was playing and more than 60 people were present when he arrived at 12.50am on May 28.

Mr Murray said Mr Larkin had been the licensee from February 2, 2012 and remained so on May 28 and when the case came before the District Court.

Mr Heffernan had only become the licensee on December 6 last and what was “particularly unsatisfactory here is that he (Mr Larkin) submits that he was only an employee whereas in the application to transfer (the licence), he would have had to swear he held the licence”, Mr Murray said.

Mr Larkin told Judge Moran that when he was offered the job, “the person who offered it to me asked would I go on the licence”, which he had agreed to do.

On May 28 last, “an argument had started and my attention was drawn from closing the house to the argument”, Mr Larkin said, adding it was he who had called the gardai.

Judge Moran said he had to be fair to other publicans in the city and not take “an unduly lenient approach” but gave Mr Larkin credit for having called the gardai on the night and the length of time between May 28, 2012, and previous offences at the premises.

Judge Moran proposed to reduce the fines to €600 but Mr Larkin said he was out of work, not in receipt of social welfare and couldn’t pay.

Judge Moran said “the other option” was to endorse the licence but agreed to adjourn the case for two weeks after Mr Murray suggested that “if Mr Heffernan was to assist in the payment of fines, then there would be no endorsement”.