A PORTLAOISE man with a serious drink problem convicted of having a Rottweiler dog loose in public without a muzzle on numerous occasions was last week given a three-month sentence and ordered to have no more custody of any controlled breed of dog.
Gordon Bergin, with addresses listed at 26 Rathevan Heights and 41 Lakeside Gardens, Kilminchy, Portlaoise, was charged with having no muzzle on the animal at the Borris Road, Portlaoise, on April 19, and no muzzle and no control of the dog at Lake Edge, Kilminchy, on June 18. There was an additional charge brought against him at last week’s court in relation to a similar offence in Portlaoise on June 3.
He has four previous convictions for the same offences, with a three-month suspended sentence imposed on him previously by Judge Gerard Haughton. Judge Haughton also ordered that he must not have custody of any dog. The latest offences were in breach of that suspended sentence.
In total, the court heard that Bergin has 34 previous convictions.
Defence, Mr Declan Breen said his client suffered with a very serious drink problem and had been coming to court on a regular basis. Mr Breen said that Bergin had previously been discovered in a very intoxicated state causing a disturbance in public with the dog present, which was why Judge Haughton had imposed the suspended sentence.
Mr Breen said that Bergin had “an acute affinity” with the dog, which he had used to replace certain relationships in his past which had ended. Mr Breen told the court that when he first informed Bergin that he would have to get rid of the dog, Bergin had cried at the news. Mr Breen said that Bergin’s brother is now looking after the animal and he knows that the dog cannot go near Bergin.
“Within the last month, he’s made a decision to do something to put some control on his life,” said Mr Breen, explaining that Bergin has made contact with an addiction counsellor.
Taking the witness box, Bergin told the court that he has been an alcoholic for around 15 years.
“The longest I’ve stayed sober is about five months in 15 years,” he said. He explained that he has been in contact with Cuan Mhuire treatment centre and he wants to put his drinking behind him.
“There’s only two ways to do it: you can either die or you can change,” he said.
Apologising to Judge Staines, an tearful Bergin told the court that he did not want to lose the dog, but it has been living with his brother for some four weeks.
After hearing the evidence, Judge Staines noted that Bergin had been given a suspended sentence and ordered not to keep dogs, yet despite this he was caught with a dog on three occasions.
“He has flagrantly disregarded the order of the court,” said Judge Staines. “This is not a family dog, it’s a dog that’s bred to attack and it’s required to be muzzled. The public must be protected.”
Judge Staines said she had sympathy for Bergin’s problem, but she pointed out that he could have sought treatment before now.
The judge reactivated the three-month suspended sentence against Bergin. Recognizance was fixed in the event of an appeal, on Bergin’s own bail bond of €100 with an independent cash surety of €200. He was also ordered not to have in his custody any dog proscribed under the Control of Dogs Act.