Abused gardaí and staff on two dates

A Portlaoise man convicted of two public order incidents at the local shopping centre was last week given community service in lieu of prison.

A Portlaoise man convicted of two public order incidents at the local shopping centre was last week given community service in lieu of prison.

Judge Catherine Staines also warned the man to keep away from the Laois Shopping Centre, where he had caused a disturbance on two separate dates just two weeks apart.

Before last week’s sitting of the Portlaoise District Court was Christopher O’Brien, with an address at 59 Hillview Drive, Knockmay, Portlaoise.

He was charged with threatening or abusive behaviour at the shopping centre on January 15 this year.

Inspector Aidan Farrelly gave evidence that gardaí were called to the centre, where the defendant was acting in a threatening manner to security staff and was being abusive. He was then abusive to the gardaí, and all of this was witnessed by shoppers.

O’Brien was also charged with threatening or abusive behaviour, and failure to comply with the direction of the gardaí, at the shopping centre on February 1.

Insp Farrelly gave evidence that a group of males, including O’Brien, was acting in an antisocial manner and being abusive to security staff. When the gardaí arrived O’Brien told the officers to f**k off.

O’Brien had 43 previous convictions, 27 of which were for public order offences.

Defence was solicitor, Ms Josephine Fitzpatrick.

Ms Fitzpatrick explained that O’Brien had been verbally barred from the shopping centre and when he was asked to leave he did not take this request on board.

Judge Staines inquired whether O’Brien had any previous convictions for theft, to which Insp Farrelly replied he had not. The judge then asked why had O’Brien been barred from the centre.

Ms Fitzpatrick replied that her client had been barred due to the sense of “unease” caused by the presence of a group of men.

She admitted that he did have anger issues and was on prescribed medication for ADHD, medication that he was not taking at the time of the offences. She said that he subsequently spent a week in hospital after the incident to deal with this.

Ms Fitzpatrick concluded by saying that O’Brien has now secured access to his five-year-old son, and he had written letters of apology to the staff at the shopping centre and the gardaí.

Judge Staines asked was he prepared to complete community service, to which Ms Fitzpatrick replied he was.

Judge Staines put the matter back to April 23 for a community service report, recommending 150 hours’ community service in lieu of three months in prison.

A condition of O’Brien’s bail is that he must stay away from Laois Shopping Centre. Judge Staines asked was he prepared to accept that condition, to which O’Brien replied that he would.