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Man claiming to be deaf-mute denied interpreter for appeal on convictions


The appeal will take place later this month (stock photo)

The appeal will take place later this month (stock photo)

Getty Images

The appeal will take place later this month (stock photo)

A judge has refused to engage a sign language interpreter in the case of a man claiming to be deaf-mute, who is set to appeal convictions involving an angry outburst following arrest for unrelated offences.

It is the second time a court has refused to facilitate the accused's claims of requiring such assistance.

Abraham Jakobovits (42), from Fortwilliam Gardens, Belfast is remanded in custody accused of burgling two churches in Fivemiletown, Co Tyrone. Following arrest for these matters and brought to Dungannon courthouse on December 22, he violently turned on police and custody officers.

Previously, Dungannon Magistrates' Court was told Jakobovits communicates by writing notes. But after hearing excerpts from police statements, it was decided by the judge sitting that day, the communication issues are "elective" and assistance is not required.

Having been convicted, an appeal was lodged at Dungannon County Court.

Yesterday, during a review hearing, a defending lawyer requested a sign-language interpreter is obtained for the appeal, on the recommendation of a psychiatrist who examined Jakobovits.

But Judge Stephen Fowler QC replied, "It is my understanding this defendant is selective in his claims to be deaf and mute. There is no evidence to show he is either. Nor is there any evidence he understands sign language. I do not therefore to accede to the application."

The appeal will take place later this month.

It was the second time a judge has rejected an application to facilitate Jakobovits with a sign-language interpreter. Previously, lawyers were adamant Jakobovits "can't, not won't, speak".

In order to settle the matter, District Judge John Meehan heard evidence from officers who dealt with the defendant in custody.

Jakobovits had become agitated, directing his anger at police and custody staff. There was complete refusal to calm down, and Jakobovits was spitting and swearing.

Having heard from the officers and after reading police statements, Judge Meehan ruled, "He (Jakobovits) is perfectly able to speak, and with a good grasp of profanity."

Judge Meehan convicted on all charges. Imposing a 10 month prison sentence, the judge said, "He refused to speak, claiming to be mute. He most definitely can hear and speak. The contempt he displays is remarkable."

In the days following conviction, Jakobovits sacked his lawyers and engaged a new legal team, who immediately lodged an appeal against conviction.

This is scheduled for hearing later this month, and on the back of yesterday's ruling, will not involve the services of a sign-language interpreter.

Belfast Telegraph