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‘Brief’ encounter Lawyer up in court on speeding charges was previously caught with cocaine on prison visit

Solicitor who avoided conviction after drugs find in jail visit is nabbed while speeding

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Aonghus McCarthy said he would have avoided the ignominy of case.

Aonghus McCarthy said he would have avoided the ignominy of case.

Aonghus McCarthy said he would have avoided the ignominy of case.

A lawyer who was once caught with cocaine while visiting a client in jail has ended up in the dock again - this time on speeding charges.

Aonghus McCarthy (35) was spared a criminal conviction for the cocaine offence, after his case was struck out when he donated €1,250 to a drug addiction treatment centre.

The Dublin-based solicitor was found with cocaine worth €26 in his wallet while visiting Mountjoy Prison on February 8, 2017.

Cork-born McCarthy maintained someone else put the drugs in his wallet at a party.

His latest court appearance on the wrong side of the dock was because of a speeding offence at the M7 Cappakeel, Co Laois, on October 15 last year.

McCarthy, of Daneswell Place, Glasnevin, Dublin 9, represented himself when he took the stand, at Portlaoise District Court.

Garda Alan Dunford told the court McCarthy was doing 149kph in a 120kph zone. An on-the-spot fine was issued but had gone unpaid.

Garda Dunford said the address on McCarthy's licence was different to that of his present address.

McCarthy said he would have paid the initial fine if he had received it, and would have avoided the ignominy of this.

He said the address on his licence was that of his previous apartment before he and his partner had bought a new property in Glasnevin.

The Sunday World can reveal the five-bedroom property was sold in November 2019 for €995,000.

McCarthy told Judge Catherine Staines he was denied the opportunity to pay the appropriate sum, to which she asked about the second opportunity, when he could have avoided penalty points.

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Sgt JJ Kirby noted the different addresses and said McCarthy was one of the top solicitors in the country and should have no problems with the fine print on the summons. McCarthy said he would not comment on that but also said he was denied the opportunity of the second fine. He did not get the fixed-charge penalty notice.

He said his estate was newly built and there was a problem with his post. "I did not get it," he claimed.

Judge Staines said she did not accept his ­evidence. Upon his leaving the stand, she asked him did he want to plead anything in mitigation.

"I did not lie to the court," stressed McCarthy.

Judge Staines replied: "I have to deal with you like anyone else. There is no favouritism."

McCarthy responded that he did not seek any favouritism, and told the judge: "You have made a decision on my credibility which may lead to difficulties with my clients."

Judge Staines said he had the opportunity to pay the second notice before May 13. He had not.

She fined him €200. A recognisance of €100 was fixed in the event of an appeal.

Judge Gerry Jones previously heard how McCarthy had visited Mountjoy jail in a professional capacity at 6.30pm on February 8, 2017. He had placed some items, including his belt and wallet, in a tray to be scanned.

A prison officer saw a black patch in the wallet and the X-ray machine was stopped. A plastic packet containing a white substance was recovered.

The solicitor was interviewed by Garda Finbarr Brennan and denied owning the cocaine. He made a voluntary statement without legal representation present.

Garda Sgt Zita Woods told Dublin District Court that McCarthy had accepted the cocaine was found in his wallet but had no idea how it got there.

He claimed that "someone else must have put it in there", possibly at a party.

McCarthy's solicitor said it was a very small amount of drugs and he had a good future.

Judge Jones had told McCarthy, at a prior hearing, that he would be spared a criminal conviction if he made a donation to the Merchants Quay drug project.

The judge said McCarthy was in a "noble profession" but insisted the lawyer was being treated the same as any other defendant, and declared: "He will get one chance and one chance only."

After McCarthy donated €1,250 to the addiction treatment centre, the lawyer was granted a strike-out when the case resumed before Judge Gráinne O'Neill.

Pictures later emerged of McCarthy "celebrating" at a dance night in Dublin's Turks Head bar, four days after the case, in March 2018.

He sported a Hugo Boss T-shirt, a big gold chain and a baseball cap.

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