“Pure gougerism” was how Judge Keenan Johnson described the actions of a Mountrath man who tried to bite a garda as he was being arrested for roaring and shouting abuse.
Patrick McDonnell (26), 7 Newline Close, Mountrath, was given one month in prison in the district court for the offence, but he appealed this sentence before Judge Johnson at the recent circuit court.
Evidence was given by Garda Darrell Rigney, along with State solicitor, Mr Donal Dunne, that a car was stopped at a multi-agency checkpoint in Clonenagh, Mountrath, on October 30, 2015.
As the garda was speaking to the driver, the front seat passenger, Patrick McDonnell began shouting and roaring abuse at him, saying “who the f**k do you think you are”.
The appellant got out of the car shouting and roaring and started walking in and out of traffic shouting abuse. This went on for half an hour, during which time the appellant was told to desist and leave the scene a number of times, but he continued to shout abuse, telling Garda Rigney to “f**k off” and he was “only a scumbag”.
Garda Rigney called for assistance, and for the safety of both the gardaí and the appellant McDonnell was arrested. As Garda Rigney was trying to restrain him and handcuff him, McDonnell attempted to bite the garda’s hand.
“I just pulled away - I’m convinced he would have bit me,” said Garda Rigney.
McDonnell had 12 previous convictions.
Defence for McDonnell put it to Garda Rigney that the appellant’s wallet and keys had been in the car and he had been anxious on the night to get them.
“He wasn’t too bothered about them,” replied Garda Rigney.
Outlining the appellant’s character, defence said that McDonnell is involved in the local GAA and trains children in both hurling and football. Defence repeated the claim that he had been “out of control” on the night as he had been anxious to retrieve his keys and wallet from the car.
To this, Judge Keenan Johnson said: “That’s a complete ball of smoke, as far as I’m concerned,” before going on to ask whether McDonnell had apologised to the garda.
Defence replied he had not, to which McDonnell himself offered an apology in court.
“Oh, now he apologises, eight months on. That’s pretty hollow to me,” said Judge Johnson.
In ruling, the judge told McDonnell he should hang his head in shame.
“This was pure gougerism,” said Judge Johnson.
“No member of the gardaí should be subjected to this type of behaviour, I can only surmise he had consumed alcohol and other substances. He didn’t even have the decency to apologise to the garda in the interim.”
Saying that he was going to “keep a much tighter reign” on the appellant, Judge Johnson increased the prison sentence for threatening or abusive behaviour to two months, but suspended it for two years on condition McDonnell keep the peace for two years, and donate €1,500 to a local charity.
For failing to comply with the gardaí, McDonnell was given 240 hours’ community service in lieu of four months in prison.