Judge reports lawyer for 'inappropriate' letters
A prominent Downpatrick solicitor has been reported to the Lord Chief Justice for sending "inappropriate" letters to a judge in the Christopher Logue case.
Joe Mulholland, of Joe Mulholland & Co, the law firm that Logue is a partner in, was a defence witness in the sex assault case.
The judge in the case, District Judge Nigel Broderick, said yesterday that Mr Mulholland had sent him a number of private letters about the case.
Mr Broderick made the revelations at Downpatrick Magistrates Court yesterday during Logue's sentence hearing.
"Mr Joe Mulholland had directed a series of letters for my personal attention. I do not consider it appropriate that any witness in a case should correspond directly with a judge while the matter is ongoing," Mr Broderick told the court.
He stressed that it was not appropriate that any application be made in a private basis, but should be made in open court.
"I took the step of referring the correspondence to the office of the Lord Chief Justice," he added.
The judge also said that the "inappropriate" correspondence did not reflect on the defendant as it had been sent without his knowledge and consent.
He added that the correspondence "in no way influenced (his) decision making process" in the sentencing of Logue.
Logue has worked with Mr Mulholland for four years and is currently a junior partner in the firm.
Mr Mulholland was at a dinner for members of the legal profession in the Burrendale Hotel in Newcastle in November 2013 when Logue sexually assaulted a female solicitor.
Mr Mulholland, who was sitting a couple of feet away from Logue during the incident, gave evidence to a court last year on Logue's behalf and said he had not noticed anything untoward.
"He was drunk, but it was pure and utter banter," he said.
However, District Judge Broderick said he found it "somewhat surprising" that Mr Mulholland had not seen anything.
"I am surprised that Mr Mulholland did not intervene and take his work colleague and partner away from the situation, but I can only assume that he was engaged with the other female in conversation and did not see what happened or chose to turn a blind eye to it," he said at the time.