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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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Crown court judge tells off Carlisle man for wasting taxpayers' money

A Carlisle man got a good telling-off from a judge for wasting taxpayers’ money by insisting that a case that could have been dealt with by magistrates should be heard at crown court.

Justin Giacopazzi – who is unemployed – could have admitted his guilt weeks ago if he had been prepared to let the magistrates deal with the case.

But instead the 42-year-old elected to take it for trial at the senior court even though, when he got there, he instantly pleaded guilty to the charges he faced.

Giacopazzi, who lives in Brookside, Raffles, admitted possessing cannabis and cannabis resin – two offences that breached the terms of a suspended sentence imposed on him in March 2011 after he was one of two men caught going out near Longtown to siphon fuel into oil drums.

After hearing details of the case, Judge Peter Davies asked how, if Giacopazzi was on benefits, he managed to buy the drugs.

“How does he afford it?” he asked. “He must be getting money from somewhere. Benefits are not generous these days.”

Defence barrister Gerard Doran explained that Giacopazzi got by on the £71-a-week sickness benefits he has been getting since hurting his arm in a motorcycle accident several years ago.

Judge Davies then criticised Giacopazzi for wasting taxpayers’ money.

“He costs the public purse by receiving benefits, then he costs the public purse again by getting himself prosecuted and he does it again by taking the wholly irresponsible decision to bring this case to this court,” he said.

The judge said it was hard to decide how best to punish Giacopazzi for the drugs offences. His arm injury prevented him doing unpaid community work and any fine would be paid off by his sister, who was sitting in the public gallery.

And there was no point sending him to prison either, he said.

“If everybody who possesses cannabis went into custody the prisons would be overflowing even more than they already are,” he said.

Giacopazzi was given a two-year conditional discharge and told to pay £500 towards the £1,200 costs of the hearing.

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