A Castletown man convicted of assaulting an off-duty garda has had a suspended sentence activated against him after he breached his peace bond by having over €2,000 of cannabis for sale or supply.
Peter Fleming, with a listed address at Churchfield Heights, Castletown, appeared before this week’s Portlaoise Circuit Court on a section 99 reentry, having committed what Judge Keenan Johnson described as “gross breaches” of his bond since being released from prison last August.
Fleming had been serving a three-year sentence, with the final two years suspended, for his part in a vicious attack on an off-duty garda in Mountrath on July 11, 2016, which left the garda off work for a month with injuries including black eyes and a fractured rib.
The accused was one of four males, including a juvenile, who attacked the garda with punches and kicks and knocked him to the ground.
When arrested, Fleming acknowledged he had kicked and punched the garda, saying: "He was looking for it, but didn't deserve it, he provoked it."
He said he administered “eight, nine, ten” punches and kicks.
Conditions of the suspended portion of Fleming’s sentence were that he enter a peace bond of €500; he remain drug free; he remain under probation supervision for 18 months post release and submit for residential treatment for his addiction issues; and he fully comply with Merchants Quay.
However, at yesterday’s (Tuesday, January 9) circuit court, Sgt Brian Farrell said that on December 11 last year, the gardaí conducted a search of a garage located on the accused’s parents’ land and found 108g of cannabis, valued at €2,160.
Sgt Farrell said that there was €490 of cannabis on a table in a number of wraps, the accused had cannabis and MDMA on him, and there was also a cannabis plant found in the accused’s room.
Also recovered was a HP laptop which had been stolen in Mountrath a month earlier.
Sgt Farrell said that when interviewed, Fleming admitted selling drugs and also accepted responsibility for two thefts in the area.
He told gardaí that he had a drug debt that he was trying to pay off, said Sgt Farrell, and also admitted taking drugs himself.
Sgt Farrell told the court that the accused is no longer welcome at his parents’ home, and his partner took out a safety order against him at the end of November last.
The accused was remanded in custody since December 13. A file has been sent to the DPP in relation to having drugs for sale or supply, and the two theft matters.
In relation to further breaches of the suspended sentence, Sgt Farrell said that Fleming had not fully linked in with the probation services since his release from prison last August.
Probation officer, Ms Heffernan-Price said she had worked with the accused since he was a juvenile. She said that after his release from prison he had engaged fairly well with probation, but then things started to spiral and he didn’t engage anymore, with probation services struggling to get hold of him in December last.
Defence barrister, Mr Simon McDonald said that the accused had been conflicted between his obligations to the court, and his need to pay off a drug debt.
Judge Keenan Johnson asked Sgt Farrell had the accused made any complaint to the gardaí about the drug debt, to which Sgt Farrell replied that the accused had not, but that this is par the course for such matters.
Judge Johnson said that he had told the accused in the strongest possible terms that if he stepped out of line the court would impose the suspended portion of the sentence.
Declaring that Fleming had committed gross breaches of his bond, Judge Johnson said: “If I didn’t follow through, I wouldn’t be doing my job. I gave him a suspended sentence for good reason and I have no hesitation in activating the sentence in full.”
The judge activated the sentence, backdated to the date the accused went into custody.