Northern Ireland

Defendant argues his use of swear word means he could not get fair hearing from female judge

District Judge Bernie Kelly said `it will be a very sad and sorry day in Northern Ireland if judges could only sit if they were men'
District Judge Bernie Kelly said `it will be a very sad and sorry day in Northern Ireland if judges could only sit if they were men' District Judge Bernie Kelly said `it will be a very sad and sorry day in Northern Ireland if judges could only sit if they were men'

A judge has refused to remove herself from hearing a case after a defendant argued comments he used in a public order incident mean he could not get a fair hearing from a woman.

Brian Milligan, (56) from Windsor Avenue Place, Lurgan contended District Judge Bernie Kelly's view of the case would be "tainted" because she is female.

He appeared before Craigavon Magistrates Court to contest charges of using disorderly behaviour on June 25 2018, as well as persistently using a communications network to cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety.

Asked for an adjournment by the defence "because of some of the phraseology used by my client in this incident", particularly his use of "the C-word would taint a fair hearing", the judge said it is "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."

She added: "It will be a very sad and sorry day in Northern Ireland if judges could only sit if they were men.

"On a point of public policy I could not remove myself."

Guilty pleas were entered to both offences and the case was adjourned to 20 March for pre-sentence reports.