Portlaoise man charged with serious assault of a Garda sergeant is released on bail

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Portlaoise Garda Station

Portlaoise Garda Station.

A young Portlaoise man who it is alleged punched a Garda at a traffic checkpoint has been released on bail pending a court hearing.

Keith McDonagh, aged 19 gave his address as 4 Highfield Meadows, Portlaoise but was said by Gardaí to be living in a caravan on the Timahoe Road, is charged with an assault on Garda Sgt Aodhan O'Flaithearta last Wednesday night December 7. 

The accused appeared in Portlaoise District court this morning, Friday December 9 where Judge Catherine Staines heard the allegations, with evidence given by Sgt Michael O'Connell.

The court heard that the charges related to a single punch that it is claimed knocked all the Garda's front teeth out, at a checkpoint in Portlaoise town at 11.40pm.

"The sergeant stopped him, trouble ensued, and he received a very serious punch to the mouth, knocking out his front teeth. His injuries are horrendous. He was hospitalised in Portlaoise that night, and is attending a specialist today in Kilkenny," Sgt O'Connell said.

The court heard that Mr McDonagh left the scene of the assault, but came voluntarily to Portlaoise Courthouse to face charges the next morning.

The court heard that McDonagh said when charged and cautioned: "I'm very sorry for what I did. I'd never do it again. If I could turn back time, it wouldn't be done". 

Superintendent Joe Prendergast objected to bail, based on the strength of the evidence, and the failure of Mr McDonagh to turn up to court on three previous occasions this year.

McDonagh's solicitor Aonghus McCarthy sought bail, pointed out that the man had co-operated fully on his arrest, and had "an almost exemplary bail record", having turned up in court 37 out of 39 times over previous crimes.

"He said he panicked on the night, but did then contact a solicitor. It wouldn't be tenable to suggest he would not stand trial," he said.

He added that the seriousness of the charge was not grounds to refuse bail.

Judge Staines granted bail on a bond of €100, on condition that McDonagh sign on three times a week at the garda station, provide a mobile number that is to be available at all times, and stay with his mother at 4 Highfield Meadows, Portlaoise.

She set a curfew between 9pm and 8am, dismissing the request for an extra hour by the solicitor who said "in light of his age, and the Christmas period, this is half a day."

Mr McDonagh is married with a two month old baby.

"You've a new baby, it's mid-winter, you've committed a serious offence, no, it's 9pm," the Judge said to Mr McDonagh.

She also refused jurisdiction in the district court as the case was "too serious", remanding it until February 16.