05/08/2021

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Man who bit garda faces 'severe penalty'

Man who bit garda faces 'severe penalty'

A man who bit a garda's finger with such force that he broke the bone has been warned that he faces a "severe penalty" if he fails to grasp the chance being offered to him by the Court of Appeal.

Brandon Power (22) of St Joseph's Road, Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow pleaded guilty in 2019 to assaulting Garda Thomas Devereux in Bray courthouse on March 31, 2018. 

Last year the three-judge Court of Appeal heard that Power was being sentenced for another matter when he became aggrieved and attempted to flee. As he was being restrained, he bit down on the garda’s finger.

The court found that a 12-month suspended sentence imposed on Power was unduly lenient but decided to postpone re-sentencing to allow him to engage with probation services.

Today, Monday, president of the court Mr Justice George Birmingham said the probation report received was not positive. He said that Power had "a significant task to persuade the court that there was any basis for leniency" and he had not taken the opportunity given to him. He said that an attack on a garda in a courthouse is of the "utmost seriousness" and if Power is to have any chance of being dealt with leniently he can't "pick and choose" when to cooperate.

James Kelly BL for the Director of Public Prosecutions said Power "has not really engaged in a meaningful manner with the recommendations of the court." 

Justin McQuade BL, representing Power, asked the court to consider that his client has not come to garda attention and was able to provide a urinalysis sample that tested negative for drugs. 

Mr Justice Birmingham, having spoken with his colleagues Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly, said the court would put the matter back one more time. He said he wanted to make it clear that Power "must take this opportunity and seize it with both hands."

He said the court will require regular urinalysis and Power must cooperate with the probation services and attend all appointments.

He added: "Any prospect of any degree of leniency... is dependent on him not getting into trouble in the meantime." Mr Justice Birmingham said that Power can expect to serve a prison sentence even if he engages positively with probation. But, he said, he is "at risk of a significantly more severe penalty" if he does not cooperate.

He added: "An act of violence against a member of An Garda Siochana in a court is of the utmost seriousness and we will deal with it with the utmost seriousness. He has been given a chance and he hasn't persuaded us that he is deserving of that opportunity. He has one more opportunity."

Power will come before the court again on October 12.

During Power's sentence hearing in 2019 Gda Devereux said he had never felt pain like it and heard his own finger snap during the attack. He thought Power had bitten it off.

The accused was given a wholly suspended one year sentence by Judge Terence O’Sullivan on April 11, 2019, which was found “unduly lenient” by the Court of Appeal following an application by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

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