Court - Woman pepper-sprayed after threatening Portlaoise Garda Detective with needles


Court - Woman pepper-sprayed after threatening Portlaoise Garda Detective with needles

Gardaí had to use pepper-spray on a woman known to be a heroin addict after she became abusive and threatened to stick a detective with syringe needles, following the seizure of her boyfriend’s car on suspected drug offences.

Before last week’s sitting of the district court was Jenny Coonan (24), 21 Hillview Crescent, Killeigh, Tullamore, charged with offences including failure to comply with the gardaí, obstruction, and threatening or abusive behaviour

Detective Garda Michael O’Donovan gave evidence that on October 11 last, at O’Moore Place, Portlaoise, the accused was observed in a vehicle with a known drug dealer.

The car took off into the Lakeglen area and the gardaí pursued.

The driver of the car then ran away, and when the gardaí informed Coonan that they were going to seize the car she replied “take the f**king stupid car”.

The gardaí then informed her she would be searched, as Det O’Donovan said he wasn’t satisfied with her ID.

At this point, the accused grabbed her handbag and said she had needles in it, with which she would inject the detective.

Det O’Donovan told the court he knew the accused to be a heroin user.

The detective went on to say that the accused also grabbed from him the key to the patrol car, and he was forced to use the pepper-spray on her during the arrest.

There was a separate shoplifting charge against the accused.

Inspector Aidan Farrelly gave evidence that this occurred on May 2 last, at Tesco, Portlaoise, when the accused stole meat products to a value of €45.89.

The accused had previous convictions.

Defence, Mr Patrick Martin said that in relation to the obstruction on October 11, other people at the scene were instigating matters.

Det O’Donovan agreed with this, and said the accused’s partner also attacked the gardaí.

Defence said that his client was on antidepressants, as her partner had died two weeks after the incident. She is attending the Community Alcohol and Drugs Service (CADS) and is awaiting an appointment with a psychiatrist.

Mr Martin said that Coonan was in a very fragile state of mind, and she has another matter before Tullamore court on March 8.

In relation to the shoplifting offence, Mr Martin said the accused had €46 compensation in court. The stolen meat items were recovered, but for health and safety reasons they were unsellable.

In sentencing, Judge Catherine Staines noted that the accused had been a serious heroin addict, but she is now on a methadone programme so the court would give her an opportunity.

“But if you continue to commit thefts I will have no option but to send you to prison,” Judge Staines warned the accused.

The judge imposed 60 hours’ community service, the maximum she could impose as the accused was already doing 180 hours on separate matters, and put the matter back to March 9 for a probation and community service report.

The judge said she wanted a report from CADS on the accused's progress.