The Accused

There’s a stairwell in the middle of the courtroom, linking the district court to the nearby Bridewell Garda station. Guards lean against the balcony as they listen to the cases.

When he emerges from the tunnel, his body language defines fatigue. He moves to the bench in front of the stairwell, while lawyers shuffle papers. He wears jeans, white runners, a rain jacket several sizes too large. After a few moments, he leans forward to adjust his jeans, pulling the hems over his runners as if to hide the fact his shoelaces were removed. Satisfied with his work, he crouches over, staring at his feet.

By the time the judge finishes reading the reports, he’s asleep on the bench. He’s pleading guilty, the solicitor explains. He’s homeless, alcohol and drug addiction, over fifty previous. He was picked up yesterday causing a row when a doorman refused to let him into a burger joint, there are outstanding warrants. On the plus side, he’s seeing a counsellor.

The judge listens. “Custody isn’t the answer to his problems, but he is a danger to the public”, he declares. Three months.

In custody maybe he will get the treatment he needs,” the judge concludes.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.