A man who was so drunk that his arresting gardaí couldn’t make out what he was trying to shout at them, was given 100 hours of community service in lieu of three months in prison this week (April 10 ).
Inspector Nicholas Farrell told the court how colleagues had been called to a disturbance in Baylough, Athlone at 6pm on March 15 after a number of complaints had been received at the station.
“When gardaí arrived they found a man who was very intoxicated and arguing with his girlfriend,” said the inspector.
“He tried to kick a passing car, and the gardaí couldn’t decipher what he was trying to say,” he said of James O’Neill (29 ), of Bolgers Lane, Main Street, Ballinasloe.
He explained how O’Neill had 74 previous convictions, almost half for public order offences, his last conviction resulting in a two month sentence from the Ballinasloe District Court in October for another public order offence.
Stand-in judge Aeneas McCarthy also heard how O’Neill had been jailed for five months for assault on September 27, and for two months for another public order offence earlier that month.
“Judge, he wasn’t aware how much difficulty he was causing. He had far too much to drink,” said Mr Mark Cooney, defending.
He went on to explain that O’Neill is getting married to his partner in August, that the couple were expecting their first child, and that: “He has since sourced new accommodation in Ballinasloe”.
Mr Cooney went on to tell the court how O’Neill had taken steps to deal with his drinking, and was going to see an addiction counsellor, but that he hadn’t documentary evidence of this appointment in court.
“This man has been alcohol free since the day in question because of his impending child and marriage,” said Mr Cooney.
He then suggested the community service option to the judge who said he had also thought of this.
He postponed a final decision until Mr Ryder, the probation officer on duty, had met with O’Neill.
When Mr Ryder told the court he also believed O’Neill was best suited for community service, Judge McCarthy so ordered it.