A homeless man who failed to register as a sex offender has been sentenced to six-months imprisonment.
Michael Wyse (56) – who gave Bennett’s Farm in Courtmacsherry as his address but is in fact homeless – was originally brought before Bantry District Court at the end of September.
The case was adjourned because Judge James McNulty wanted to know if the accused could be electronically-tagged and released.
On that occasion, Judge McNulty also requested an up-to-date probation report, but, after reading it, said it was clear that the accused could not do community service in lieu of a prison sentence.
The court was told that the accused has 24 previous convictions, 13 of which relate to serious sexual offences.
The accused was in custody when the case was called at Bantry District Court, last Thursday, and his solicitor, Flor Murphy, explained that as a registered sex offender his client finds it impossible to secure accommodation and has, as a result, become ‘a drifter.’
Mr Murphy said his client is without a home, or family support, and that the homeless shelters cannot accommodate him either.
‘It is very difficult given his current lifestyle,’ said Mr Murphy, who also pointed out that his client’s problems are compounded by the fact that he is illiterate.
The accused was arrested in West Cork by Gda Peter Nolan after he failed to contact the gardaí when he came to the area between September 14th and September 26th last.
In evidence for the prosecution, Sgt Brian Harte confirmed that there is now provision in law for the tagging of offenders. However, he said the roll-out of the pilot scheme can only be used in cases that are considered ‘not serious’ and ‘not violent.’
The sergeant noted that the scheme ‘is not up and running to full effect yet.’ And he informed Judge McNulty that the scheme is not being operated by the Gardaí but by the prison service.
In reply, Judge McNulty said: ‘Maybe when he goes to prison he could be released under that programme, but I will leave it up to those who know better.’
The judge said he understood the accused man’s difficulties in securing accommodation saying: ‘The finest of people are homeless now and this man is not going to be top of anyone’s list of prospective tenants.’
By what Judge McNulty described as ‘his drifting nature’, he said the accused would, in all likelihood, continue to ‘fail to comply with the legislation’ governing sex offenders.
The judge suggested it would be better for the accused if he were to reside in an urban area, like Cork city, where the gardaí would be able to monitor him more effectively.
When Judge McNulty imposed the six-month sentence, Mr Murphy asked for it to be back-dated to the date when his client was taken into custody.