14 Aug 2022

Man who repeatedly punched a garda in the face receives suspended prison sentence

Man who repeatedly punched a garda in the face receives suspended prison sentence

A man with an acquired brain injury who repeatedly punched a garda in the face has received a fully suspended sentence.

Paul Rooney (30), who suffered an acquired brain injury in 2003 when he was the victim of a hit-and-run incident, attacked a garda after he was caught dragging a bike still attached to a bike rack down a busy Dublin city centre street.

Rooney of Railway Street, Dublin, pleaded guilty to one count of assaulting a garda at Beaver Street, Dublin, on January 19, 2019. He has 37 previous convictions including criminal damage, theft and handling stolen property.

Judge Martin Nolan had previously adjourned the matter and ordered that it return to court immediately in the meantime if Rooney commited any further offences.

Judge Nolan expressed concerns that the accused will “injure somebody badly” in the future.

Passing sentence on Thursday, Judge Nolan said Rooney had behaved well since the previous sentencing hearing. He said that “principally by reason of his medical history” he was not going to imprison him.

Judge Nolan sentenced him to two-and-a-half years imprisonment, but suspended the entirety of the sentence on strict conditions.

At a previous sentencing hearing, the court heard that Rooney punched Garda Patrick Barker five to six times in the face after he was apprehended trying to steal a bike.

His brothers and mother appeared on the scene and attempted to placate him, with his mother administering medication in an attempt to calm him down, Gda James Connolly told Garret Baker BL, prosecuting.

Gda Barker suffered a cut to the nose during the assault. Rooney was arrested and was extremely apologetic to the garda he had injured once his medication had taken effect, the court heard.

Judge Nolan accepted submissions by defence counsel, Gerardine Small BL, that her client has a significant brain injury. However, he noted Rooney's history of offending had grown more serious in recent years.

“The problem I have is that he has this condition and he keeps committing crimes,” Judge Nolan said. “What is this court supposed to do?”

The judge noted the court had only “one tool left in the box”.

“The next time will he injure somebody badly. I am sorry for Mr Rooney,” Judge Nolan said. “But he is going to have to conform.”

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