Belfast Telegraph

Man accused of foul-mouthed rant says woman judge would ‘taint’ a fair hearing

A judge has refused to remove herself from hearing a case after a Co Armagh man claimed he could not get a fair hearing from a woman because of comments he used in a public order incident. (stock photo)
A judge has refused to remove herself from hearing a case after a Co Armagh man claimed he could not get a fair hearing from a woman because of comments he used in a public order incident. (stock photo)

By Staff Reporter

A judge has refused to remove herself from hearing a case after a Co Armagh man claimed he could not get a fair hearing from a woman because of comments he used in a public order incident.

Brian Milligan argued that District Judge Bernie Kelly's view of the case would be "tainted" because she is female. Milligan (56), from Windsor Avenue Place, Lurgan, appeared before Craigavon Magistrates Court to contest charges of using disorderly behaviour on June 25 last year, as well as persistently using a communications network to cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety.

Before the case began Milligan remonstrated with his barrister who then informed the court he would no longer be acting for him.

A defence solicitor took over and began by asking for an adjournment - the reasoning for which provoking a strong reaction from Judge Kelly.

The defence said: "Because of some of the phraseology used by my client in this incident, he is of the opinion the fact you would hear this as a woman, particularly his use of the 'C-word', would taint a fair hearing."

Judge Kelly replied: "Is that not language I hear every day of my working life unfortunately? Listening to foul and abusive language is part of my job.

"I'm inured to it after 40 years. He's making the case on the basis of my sex I cannot hear his case. It will be a very sad and sorry day in Northern Ireland if judges could only sit if they were men."

She added: "On a point of public policy I could not remove myself. As it stands it is the defendant who raised the issue of my gender, so he's the one with a tainted view."

After allowing an adjournment for Milligan to consult with his lawyer, the case resumed and guilty pleas were entered to both offences, which Judge Kelly described as "eminently sensible".

She adjourned the case for the preparation of pre-sentence reports and ordered Milligan to return to court on March 20.

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