Portlaoise prison officer given court compensation after assault

Court reporter

Reporter:

Court reporter

Portlaoise Prison

Portlaoise Prison

A prison officer who was beaten by a prisoner whom he tried to aid in Midlands Prison, has received a contribution from the court poorbox to pay for his medical bills.

Prison Officer Killian Looney suffered cuts, a black eye and tissue damage in the incident.
The defendent Hughie Donoghue was brought before Portlaoise District Court last Thursday, June 6 to face charges.
Mr Donoghue participated via videolink from prison.

Garda Sgt JJ Kirby gave evidence of the incident which occurred last September 8 at 6pm in the Midlands Prison.
Killian Looney entered Mr Donoghue's prison cell in Midlands Prison, after becoming concerned for the health of the prisoner.

The prisoner had appeared unresponsive.
“He was struck a number of times on the head and face. He suffered cuts, a black eye and tissue damage,” he said.
The defendant pleaded guilty to the assault and had written a letter of apology.

Aged 22, he has 46 previous convictions, the first at age 13 when he got seven years for a robbery. Other convictions included ones for burglaries, threats to kill and an assault.

Defence, Ms Josephine Fitzpatrick said her client claimed that he had taken tablets, and had apologised straight after the assault.
“It was not necessary for Mr Donoghue to be taken out of prison. He made a statement in prison,” she said.
“He fully accepts he was responsible. He said he had taken tablets. He woke to a number of people in his cell he didn’t know. He reacted, I suspect suffering from paranoia. It was dark but I’d say in light or dark that would have been his reaction,” the solicitor said.

Ms Fitzpatrick said that the assault resulted in Mr Donoghue being limited to one call a week and being placed in his cell from 4pm to 9.30am.
“He is 22, he has amassed a number of convictions in his young life. He has a son with his partner. He did the junior and leaving cert in prison. He hopes on release to lead a regular life in Sligo,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

She asked that if another sentence was imposed for the assault, that it “won’t be extended enormously”.

Mr Donoghue spoke via camera to Judge Catherine Staines.
“I’d like to say sorry to Killian for assaulting him. We get on well. If I could go back I wouldn’t have done it. He supported me, he got me a job,” he said.

Mr Looney who submitted a victim impact statement, is seeking compensation from the Criminal Injuries Board, the court was told.

Judge Staines said that the prison officer had been concerned and was trying to help the prisoner.
“Unfortunately he overreacted and assaulted him very badly. It is a serious offence to assault anybody, especially a prison officer,” she said.

The Judge went on to note several reasons for any leniency in her decision.
“However, I know he pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. I know that he has ADHD and is bipolar, with a very difficult upbringing. He appears to show genuine remorse, and the apology is accepted by Mr Looney, of whom Mr Donoghue speaks very highly,” she said.

Judge Staines then imposed an eight month sentence in Midlands Prison. She backdated it to the time of the offence, which meant Mr Donoghue’s release date will not be extended. She directed that the officer be given €1,000 from the court poorbox to pay for A&E and physio costs.
The prisoner thanked the Judge and Mr Looney via the videolink.