05/08/2021

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Woman jailed for spitting at garda and grabbing another by the hair

Woman jailed for spitting at garda and grabbing another by the hair

A woman who grabbed a garda by the hair on the street while on bail for spitting at another garda has been jailed for three years and three months.

Jacqueline McElhatton (45) spat at the garda in a court building after being arrested for spraying the employee of a pharmacy with hand sanitiser and then throwing the bottle at his face.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that McElhatton was on bail for these offences when she grabbed a garda by her hair after being approached on the street following a failed robbery.

McElhatton with an address at Peter McVerry Trust, Conyngham Road, Dublin City centre, pleaded guilty to assaulting Garda Rachel Corcoran at the Criminal Courts of Justice Building, Parkgate Street, Dublin 8, on April 20, 2020.

She also pleaded guilty to an assault at Rathmines Pharmacy, Lwr Rathmines Rd, Rathmines, on the same date in April 2020.

McElhatton further pleaded guilty to attempted robbery at O'Connell Street, Dublin city centre, and to obstructing a peace officer at College Green, Dublin city centre, both on August 8, 2020.

She has 125 previous convictions, including convictions for assault, obstruction and theft.

Sergeant Charlie Dempsey told Ronan Prendergast BL, prosecuting, that on the date in April 2020, McElhatton entered the pharmacy in Rathmines and took a bottle of hand sanitiser from the till area.

Sgt Dempsey said she was told by a man in the shop that browsing was not allowed due to Covid-19. McElhatton began spraying the man with the hand sanitizer before throwing the bottle at him, striking him in the face.

Garda Rachel Corcoran received details of the offence and arrested the accused soon afterwards. While in a garda station, McElhatton coughed into her hands and then said she had Covid-19.

McElhatton was brought to the CCJ building where she picked a cigarette butt off the ground. When told to drop it by Gda Corcoran, the accused spat at her right shoulder.

Sgt Dempsey agreed with Garrett Charles Casey BL, defending, that all of his client's previous convictions were recorded in the District Court.

Garda Tara Brennan told Lisa Dempsey BL, prosecuting, that a Brazillian man was walking down O'Connell St on the date in August 2020 and had stopped to take a photograph with his phone when he was approached by the accused woman.

Gda Brennan said McElhatton punched the man in the face and grabbed his earphones, breaking them. She also attempted to take his phone from his hand, but he managed to prevent her.

The man went in search of gardaí while McElhatton followed him, eventually stopping a garda car beside Trinity College. He informed Gda Brennan what had happened and pointed out the accused.

Gda Brennan approached McElhatton who became aggressive and grabbed the garda's hair. Both women fell onto the ground and the accused was arrested after an off-duty garda intervened to assist Gda Brennan.

The court heard she was on bail for the offences in April 2020 at the time of these offences.

Mr Casey said his client's offending is almost entirely down to her addiction issues and that she has taken steps to deal with them while in custody.

Judge Melanie Greally said that gardaí should not have to face this kind of violence when they are going about their duty.

Judge Greally sentenced McElhatton to 15 months imprisonment for the offences in April 2020. She also sentenced her to four years imprisonment for the offences in August 2020 and ordered that this sentence run consecutive to the former sentence.

She then suspended the final two years of the latter sentence on strict conditions, resulting in an effective operating sentence of imprisonment of five years and three months with the final two years suspended.

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