Man claim­ing to be deaf-mute de­nied in­ter­preter for ap­peal on con­vic­tions

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY STAFF RE­PORTER

A JUDGE has re­fused to en­gage a sign lan­guage in­ter­preter in the case of a man claim­ing to be deaf-mute, who is set to ap­peal con­vic­tions in­volv­ing an an­gry out­burst fol­low­ing ar­rest for un­re­lated of­fences.

It is the sec­ond time a court has re­fused to fa­cil­i­tate the ac­cused’s claims of re­quir­ing such as­sis­tance.

Abra­ham Jakobovits (42), from Fortwilliam Gar­dens, Belfast is re­manded in cus­tody ac­cused of bur­gling two churches in Fivemile­town, Co Ty­rone. Fol­low­ing ar­rest for these mat­ters and brought to Dun­gan­non court­house on De­cem­ber 22, he vi­o­lently turned on po­lice and cus­tody of­fi­cers.

Pre­vi­ously, Dun­gan­non Mag­is­trates’ Court was told Jakobovits com­mu­ni­cates by writ­ing notes. But af­ter hear­ing ex­cerpts from po­lice state­ments, it was de­cided by the judge sit­ting that day, the com­mu­ni­ca­tion is­sues are “elec­tive” and as­sis­tance is not re­quired.

Hav­ing been con­victed, an ap­peal was lodged at Dun­gan­non County Court.

Yes­ter­day, dur­ing a re­view hear­ing, a de­fend­ing lawyer re­quested a sign-lan­guage in­ter­preter is ob­tained for the ap­peal, on the rec­om­men­da­tion of a psy­chi­a­trist who ex­am­ined Jakobovits.

But Judge Stephen Fowler QC replied, “It is my un­der­stand­ing this de­fen­dant is se­lec­tive in his claims to be deaf and mute. There is no ev­i­dence to show he is ei­ther. Nor is there any ev­i­dence he un­der­stands sign lan­guage. I do not there­fore to ac­cede to the ap­pli­ca­tion.”

The ap­peal will take place later this month.

It was the sec­ond time a judge has re­jected an ap­pli­ca­tion to fa­cil­i­tate Jakobovits with a sign-lan­guage in­ter­preter. Pre­vi­ously, lawyers were adamant Jakobovits “can’t, not won’t, speak”.

In or­der to set­tle the mat­ter, District Judge John Mee­han heard ev­i­dence from of­fi­cers who dealt with the de­fen­dant in cus­tody.

Jakobovits had be­come ag­i­tated, di­rect­ing his anger at po­lice and cus­tody staff. There was com­plete re­fusal to calm down, and Jakobovits was spit­ting and swear­ing.

Hav­ing heard from the of­fi­cers and af­ter read­ing po­lice state­ments, Judge Mee­han ruled, “He (Jakobovits) is per­fectly able to speak, and with a good grasp of pro­fan­ity.”

Judge Mee­han con­victed on all charges. Im­pos­ing a 10 month prison sen­tence, the judge said, “He re­fused to speak, claim­ing to be mute. He most def­i­nitely can hear and speak. The con­tempt he dis­plays is re­mark­able.”

In the days fol­low­ing con­vic­tion, Jakobovits sacked his lawyers and en­gaged a new le­gal team, who im­me­di­ately lodged an ap­peal against con­vic­tion.

This is sched­uled for hear­ing later this month, and on the back of yes­ter­day’s rul­ing, will not in­volve the ser­vices of a sign-lan­guage in­ter­preter.

❝ He most def­i­nitely can hear and speak, he has played the jus­tice sys­tem for his own ends

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