Irish judge shot in face in courthouse

A judge in the Republic of Ireland was accidentally shot in the face by a solicitor who was trying to demonstrate that an air pistol was harmless.

Judge John Neilan was hearing a family law case in Longford District Court when he was shot, it emerged yesterday.

The judge, who is never lost for words, didn't want to comment on the matter yesterday.

Ironically, the lawyer was trying to demonstrate to Judge John Neilan that the weapon was not dangerous when it accidentally discharged and fired a pellet in his direction.

It happened during a family law hearing in Longford District Court on Tuesday.

The judge was not seriously injured in the incident and it is understood that he continued hearing the case and proceedings went ahead as normal.

Yesterday, the judge had no marks on his face as he presided over Mullingar District Court in Co Westmeath.

When asked about the matter before he entered the court house yesterday afternoon, the judge said: "I don't want to make a comment."

Gardai said there were "absolutely no records" of the incident.

There were only a handful of witnesses when the judge was accidentally shot as all family law matters are held in camera.

In cases like this, restrictions are in place as to who can attend the court as they involve sensitive domestic issues.

No media or gardai were present for the case on Tuesday.

Normally, in criminal cases, an exhibits officer is appointed by gardai to present evidence in the courtroom.

However, on this occasion, the matter was a civil one and it would be the responsibility of the solicitor in court to ensure the evidence was secure.

Judge Neilan has never been far from the limelight over the years. He questioned the "obscene" salaries of top bankers and attacked the sector for losing the run of themselves in July.

The outspoken judge lambasted the banks for handing out money "in fistfuls" during the boom. He also said the people who ran the sector had less common sense than a "dog in the street".

And last year, he caused uproar when he branded Court Service staff as "lazy" and "totally incompetent" after they complained about working after 5pm.

He said he was "sick and tired and fed up" with the Court Service from the top down. He described the system as a "shambles" and said those involved were "totally incompetent" as far as he was concerned.

Last December, ahead of changes to the district in which he presides, the judge apologised to "anyone and everybody" he may have "wittingly or unwittingly offended".

He has also had words with high-ranking gardai in his courtroom.

The judge threatened to jail a senior garda inspector for one week on June 2, 2008, after he accused him of "laughing" in court.

He claimed he saw Inspector Paul Cuttle laughing after he branded a remand hearing for a man charged with murder as a "PR exercise" when gardai failed to produce a book of evidence.

In 2004, he declared he would immediately jail for one week all those guilty of drink driving while considering a sufficient penalty.

After former Justice Minister Michael McDowell pointed out the constitutional right to bail, the judge said he was withdrawing from hearing drink-driving cases for six months. Work at the judge's court resumed but he continued to have a tense relationship with Mr McDowell.

When asked if he would join the then minister in opening the newly refurbished Longford courthouse, he said: "I wouldn't share the platform with him if he was opening the gates of heaven."

* Source: The Irish Independent

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?