A Portlaoise man has received a six-month prison sentence for assaulting two gardaí after he was arrested for drink driving.
Peter Westlake (42), 37 Lakeside Gardens, Portlaoise, was charged at last week’s district court with two counts of assault, at Portlaoise Garda Station, and driving with no insurance or driving licence, at the Dublin Road, Portlaoise, on October 2 last year.
Sgt JJ Kirby gave evidence that on October 2, the accused was stopped driving at the Dublin Road, after he was observed leaving the church car park with no lights on.
The accused failed a roadside breath test and was arrested.
He was taken to Portlaoise Garda Station and brought to the doctor’s room.
Sgt Kirby said that, all of a sudden, the accused became very violent and aggressive and struck out at the gardaí.
He hit a female garda in the face, although Sgt Kirby said Westlake didn’t hit her full force.
He slapped her to the face and kicked her, and then attempted to headbutt a garda sergeant.
The accused did not connect with the sergeant, but pushed him to the ground and struck him a number of times.
The sergeant was not injured, and while the female garda was not injured physically, she was very upset and traumatised, said Sgt Kirby.
The accused eventually calmed down and provided a blood sample, which returned a reading of 110mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
Sgt Kirby told the court that it turned out the accused was insured to drive at the time.
Judge Catherine Staines therefore struck out the charge of no insurance.
The day after the incident, the accused came into the garda station and was very apologetic.
“He has some issues,” said Sgt Kirby.
Defence, Mr Declan Breen put it that his client had quite serious psychiatric issues, which Sgt Kirby agreed with.
Mr Breen said that his client used to run his own business, but things spiralled downwards after he broke up with his wife.
Defence said that Westlake suffered with psychiatric issues and panic attacks.
Sgt Kirby added that “alcohol doesn’t help him either”.
Mr Breen said that on the night of the offence, the accused had been invited by Nigerian friends to celebrate the Nigerian new year and he parked his car in the church car park, and was moving the car to avoid parking fees when he was arrested.
Mr Breen said that Westlake took a panic attack in the garda station and needed water, and he made a mad dash to the drinking tap, but was stopped by the gardaí and this incident took place.
Neither garda suffered physical damage, but the accused accepted that the female garda was traumatised and on two occasions he had apologised in person.
He is now attending for treatment on a weekly basis for anxiety.
“He never had a history of this kind of behaviour before,” said Mr Breen.
Judge Staines said the accused had been arrested for drink driving, then while at the station he assaulted a female garda and tried to headbutt a sergeant. She described the accused’s behaviour as absolutely appalling and said assaults on the gardaí were simply not acceptable.
For the assault on the garda, Judge Staines imposed six months in prison, with the assault on the sergeant taken into consideration.
The charge of drink driving was also taken into consideration.
Recognisance was fixed for an appeal.