Innisfail Magistrate Cathy McLennan. Picture: Elisabeth Champion
Innisfail Magistrate Cathy McLennan. Picture: Elisabeth Champion

‘I know most of what you said to me is bull****’

AN INNISFAIL magistrate who fined a crook over minor drug charges has sensationally stripped the woman of her sentence and told her to "take her chances" in another Queensland court after claiming she was "mouthing off" while leaving the courtroom.

In a decision that has left many in the Queensland legal fraternity speechless, Magistrate Cathy McLennan in June this year ordered Cairns woman Bridie Ann Gallagher to return to the courtroom after her matter had been finalised because she had allegedly also "made threats".

Gallagher pleaded guilty to charges including three counts of drug possession in the Innisfail Magistrates Court on June 17, 2019 and was slapped with a $1500 fine.

The offences had occurred in May.

Transcripts of the court hearing obtained by The Sunday Mail show Gallagher's lawyer told the court during the hearing the woman's partner had committed suicide years earlier and she had lapsed into drug use as a result of her mother's death.

Ms McLennan said during the original sentencing that the lawyer representing the woman had retold lies sprouted by the woman to the court.

"You know, my job could be described by many people as the most lied to in this region and I know most of what (your lawyer) said to me that came from you is bullshit. Bullshit," she said.

The magistrate later added: "I think your partner probably deserves better than having you ruin your life in his name".

Innisfail author and magistrate Cathy McLennan, who also wrote the memoir Saltwater. Picture: Brendan Radke.
Innisfail author and magistrate Cathy McLennan, who also wrote the memoir Saltwater. Picture: Brendan Radke.

Transcripts show the lawyer acting for Gallagher tried to argue during the original sentencing hearing that statements from the Magistrate McLennan were "factually incorrect" but the man was told to sit down.

Less than half an hour after being sentenced, Ms McLennan hauled the 43-year-old back before the court and told her: "Now, as I understand it, I saw you mouthing off as you were leaving the court".

"It seems I have entirely misjudged you," she added.

Ms McLennan tells Gallagher she had become aware the woman "made threats or acted in a threatening manner" when leaving the court, which the defendant denied.

Gallagher tells the magistrate: "The duty solicitor has pulled me up on the street and asked me to come back in and make a complaint".

"I didn't act in a threatening manner. I just got asked … he's asked me … out on the street here, he said: 'You need to go in there and do that (make a complaint)'. I was already walking down the street on my way out of here," she said.

Ms McLennan the tells her: "So you have entered a plea of guilty to the charge. It seems I have entirely misjudged you".

"What the hell?" Gallagher said.

Ms McLennan then tells the woman she will "vacate the plea" and send the matter to Cairns for sentencing, earlier telling her with "10 previous convictions, I could have sent you to jail today".

"You can take your chances up there," she warns Gallagher.

The Sunday Mail understands Gallagher's matter was adjourned to the Cairns Magistrates Court for mention on July 1 and was expected to be listed for sentence on July 25.

When inquiries were made with the Innisfail and Cairns courthouses, The Sunday Mail was told an order of the court had been made requiring approval from the senior registrar to distribute information about the matter.

Attempts to contact the senior registrar at the Cairns courthouse were made prior to the publication of this story.

It understood to be uncommon for the court to make such an order.

"This matter remains unfinalised and therefore the Chief Magistrate's office will not be commenting on it," a spokeswoman for the Chief Magistrate's Office told The Sunday Mail.

Bridie Gallagher did not return requests for comment.