Case adjourned for two weeks for Probation Report.
A 27 years-old Kilsheelan man punched a male garda in the face and body and pushed a female garda over a table when they were called to a domestic incident at a house in Carrick-on-Suir, a court heard last week.
One of the gardai assaulted and harmed by Philip O'Halloran of No 1 Slievenamon Drive, Kilsheelan is still on sick leave seven months after the incident while the other officer has only just returned to work.
O'Halloran pleaded guilty to assaulting and harming the two gardai at No. 26 Pearse Square, Carrick-on-Suir on March 19 last year.
Gda. Sgt. Ian Barrett told the court the two gardai were called to a domestic incident at this address.
O'Halloran, who was intoxicated, was asked to leave the premises and was escorted from the house. About 40 minutes later, the two officers were called again to the house after O'Halloran's partner allowed him back into the premises. O'Halloran refused to leave and punched the male garda a number of times in the face and body. He also ripped the epaulette from the shoulder of his uniform. The female garda attempted to restrain O'Halloran but he pushed her backwards and she went over a table. He also fell over the table with her and landed on the garda.
Sgt. Barrett said the two gardai called for assistance and O'Halloran was removed from the premises. Both officers were injured in the incident. The female garda had only just returned to work while the other officer had not yet returned to work.
Victim Impact Statements from both gardai were presented to Judge Terence Finn.
Defence solicitor Eamonn Hayes said his client wished to apologise for his behaviour and was prepared to meet with the two gardai to apologise in person to them and assure them they had nothing to fear from him.
He explained that O'Halloran went out socialising on the night of this incident and he drank beer and spirits. When he left the house at the direction of the gardai, he initially intended to sleep in his car.
He became concerned that he risked being prosecuted under drink driving legislation if he was found in the car by the gardai.
Mr Hayes said his client returned to the house and his partner allowed him in. He retired to bed but the gardai were contacted by his partner.
"The two gardai arrived at the house and he was disinclined to leave. That is a decision he very seriously regrets with the events that unfolded."
The solicitor submitted that O'Halloran had an alcohol abuse difficulty since his teenage years and it was this that caused the incident. "He has refrained completely from alcohol since the incident and attended a 10-week anger management course."
He pointed out that O'Halloran was dismissed from his job because of his appearance in court for this offence but has now secured new employment.
Mr Hayes appealed to Judge Finn to be lenient in imposing penalty and pointed to his guilty plea, the fact he hadn't any previous convictinos and was willing to pay compensation to the gardai he assaulted.
Judge Finn, who was presiding at his first sitting of Carrick-on-Suir District Court after a four months leave, said his colleague accepted jurisdiction to hear this case in the district court during his abence and he accepted this decision.
However, he noted that if the case had come before him at the stage where jurisdiction was being decided upon, there would have been a different outcome given the evidence he had heard.
He said the Victim Impact Statements from the two injured gardai were very concerning and one of them had yet to return to work.
The fact these gardai were unable to carry our their duties for the public at large because of the injuries they suffered was a loss to society and all because O'Halloran was not prepared to stay away from this house when directed to do so and decided to "stand and fight".
Judge Finn said O'Halloran's clean record and his guilty plea stood to him but were not sufficient for to court not to impose a custodial sentence.
The injuries suffered by the two gardai were substantial and the court must factor in the physical and psychological effects of the defendant's violence on them.
He said he was going to impose a ten months prison sentence and the mitigating factors in the case were not sufficient for him to suspend the sentence.
Mr Hayes requested him to put a stay on the prison sentence and order a Probation Report on his client.
Judge Finn agreed to adjourn the case for two weeks for a Probation Report to be prepared on O'Halloran but advised the solicitor he didn't hold out much hope of the report swaying him in his sentencing.
"It would take something of great significance that hasn't already been articulated," he concluded.