Council costs debated in Limerick dumping case

Judge Mary Larkin

Judge Mary Larkin

A MAN who appeared in court charged with illegal dumping and burning of waste now has to pay Limerick City and County Council over €2,500 in costs associated with bringing him to court, outside of a fine which may be handed down.

Patrick Gammell, who lives on the property adjacent to the ghost estate at Ballywilliam, Rathkeale, appeared in Newcastle West court last month for the dumping of ‘vegetation’ onto the neighbouring estate.

On March 31, 2017, council inspector Dermot Lambe carried out an initial inspection, where he found a fire on the man’s property, and ‘vegetation’, such as tree branches, on the ghost estate.

But the costs of the case, totalling €2,567.61, were debated in the court this week when solicitor for the defence, Michael O’Donnell, argued that the price should be reduced in view of Mr Gammell’s cooperation. The waste has now all been removed and dealt with in an appropriate manner, the court heard.

Mr Lambe said that he carried out the most recent inspection this Monday, and he was satisfied with the work that had been done.

Mr O’Donnell said: “Since the last date, he went above and beyond, there was a lot of refuse there and he got rid of it.”

Mr Leahy said that the costs were incurred due to the number of inspections and the cost associated with bringing the council officer to court while he is on the clock, as well as the legal costs associated with pursuing the issue.

The only time the judge is able to reduce costs is when the defendant could prove that they wouldn’t be able to pay, Mr Leahy said.

“He is building two fine houses on his property,” said Mr Leahy. “You would need special reasons – there is no sworn evidence on a statement of means,” he added.

Mr Leahy added that although Mr Gammell was now cooperating fully, a bench warrant was issued one day when he did not appear in court. “Mr Lambe had to come here on that day and sit for hours at the taxpayer’s expense,” said Mr Leahy.

Judge Mary Larkin told Mr O’Donnell that she can’t measure the costs based on the offence. “The machinery of Limerick City and County Council costs a fortune. You don’t know how many people are involved at each stage to activate this case,” she said.

The case was adjourned until May 1 to allow the defendant to pay the costs before a final penalty is handed down.

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