A teenager who pretended to be a garda and attacked a man on the street during the first lockdown last year has received a fully suspended sentence.
Edward Illes, now aged 20, was a passenger in a car which displayed flashing blue lights and took part in stopping people on the street under the guise of being a garda member.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that during one of these incidents, Illes attacked a man after he first asked the accused for identification and then called the emergency services.
The court heard that the behaviour started out as a “prank” and that Illes could be described as a “very genuine person, but a complete eejit”.
Illes, with an address at Park Drive Grove, Castleknock, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm at Luttrellstown Road, Castleknock, and to impersonating a garda at Carpenterstown Road, Castleknock, both on April 19, 2020. He has four previous convictions for road traffic offences.
Garda Ciara Darling told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that during the first lockdown in April 2020, a man was walking in his local area in Castleknock when a car displaying flashing blue lights pulled over beside him.
Gda Darling said the driver of the car asked the man where he was going and if he was out for exercise. Illes, who was the passenger in the car, then shouted at the man asking him for identification.
Illes got out of the car, approached the man and told him to take out his wallet. The man became suspicious that the accused was not a garda and asked to see garda identification.
The accused returned to the car and began looking through the glove box, while the man rang emergency services. Illes then ran towards the man with his fist raised. After the man kicked him in the stomach, Illes pushed him, causing the man to hit his head against a pole.
Illes knocked the man onto the ground and punched him five or six times while he was still on the phone to emergency services. Illes tried to take the phone from him, then ran back to the car and left the scene.
Gda Darling said that later on the same day, a Dublin Bus driver pulled over when they saw a car behind them with blue flashing lights because they thought it was gardaí. The driver of the car got onto the bus and said he intended to inspect it.
This incident came to an end when the bus driver asked this man for identification, who told Illes to get it from the car, only for Illes to return and say he could not find it.
Illes also interacted with another man who was out walking his dog in the area, returning to the car after this man asked him to show identification to prove he was a garda.
In interview with gardaí, Illes said he did not have a great recollection of events as he had been drinking and that the blue lights had belonged to the driver. The court heard that the driver has not attended court and warrants for his arrest are outstanding.
Gda Darling agreed with Jennifer Jackson BL, defending, that according to her client's co-accused, this behaviour started out as a “prank”. She agreed her client has not come to garda attention since the offence.
The garda agreed with counsel that her client could be described as a “very genuine person, but a complete eejit”. The court heard the accused had €1,000 in court as an expression of his remorse.
Ms Jackson said her client had worked two jobs and attended the gym daily prior to the pandemic. She said that during the lockdown he began drinking heavily because of boredom and driving around with his friends.
Counsel said her client now only drinks on special occasions. She said he has instructed her to apologise to the victims and to An Garda Síochána.
Judge Martin Nolan said he did not know what overtook them, but they had engaged in “what could be termed very prankish behaviour” which turned into “very thuggish behaviour”.
Judge Nolan said it would be “tempting” to imprison Illes because on the night he behaved “in a very thuggish way”. He said the court can accept the accused is unlikely to come back before to court for anything as serious as this.
He sentenced Illes to two years imprisonment, but suspended the sentence on strict conditions, including that he hand over the €1,000 and raise a further sum of €4,000 within one year.
Judge Nolan told Illes that he was “a lucky man” and that he behaved “disgracefully”. He told the accused that if he committed another offence, then he would be brought back to this court and “this court will remember you”.
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