Trio ordered to pay compensation for “ugly” hotel violence which ruined wedding
By Martina Nee
A wedding party’s dream day turned into a nightmare when a young Galway woman tanked up on drink from a 50th birthday celebration lost control and began abusing other hotel guests before assaulting security, hotel staff, and other by-standers, and at one point even biting hard on a man’s thumb, the Galway District Court heard this week.
The violence escalated when 20-year-old Elaine Noone’s brother Declan (26) and his then girlfriend became embroiled in the incident which was described in court as “particularly ugly”. The case was adjourned to allow time for all three co-accused to pay varying amounts of compensation to the injured parties.
At Monday’s sitting Elaine Noone with an address at 106 Ballinfoyle Park, Headford Road, pleaded guilty to the charges of being intoxicated in a public place, five counts of assault, and one count of assault causing harm on December 11, 2011. Declan Noone of the same address pleaded guilty to the charges of being intoxicated in a public place and two counts of assault, while the third defendant, Jeni Fahy (18) with an address at Miltown Road, Tuam, pleaded guilty to being intoxicated in a public place and two counts of assault on the same date and location.
Hotel security and staff injured in bid to stop abuse of guests
Garda Rena Sheerin gave evidence that at 2.10am a call was received regarding a disturbance at a city hotel where three functions had been taking place. The defendants had been attending a relation’s 50th birthday party in the front bar when an altercation took place and security was called. While talking to the defendants a security man was assaulted by them. A night porter and a bar man came to the security man’s aid. The security man who sustained injuries was then removed to the kitchen area and the situation seemed to have abated. However, a few minutes later Elaine Noone was in the lobby area where she began hurling abuse at other guests of the hotel, majority of whom had been attending a wedding, while others were at a Christmas party. While staff attempted to calm her down the call was made to gardai. Garda Sheerin said that before gardai arrived at the scene the night porter had been trying to hold Elaine Noone when “she caught him and bit into his thumb”. Such was the force of the bite and the persistant violence of the defendant that another staff member had to push both her and the night porter to the ground “for the bite to the released”.
The court then heard that a member of a band that had been performing at the wedding earlier had been removing equipment from the hotel when he saw Elaine Noone dart across the lobby. In an attempt to stop her from attacking any more guests the man stood in front of her only to be punched. She then attacked the man again by kicking him. The first garda to arrive at the scene immediately went to restrain both Elaine and Declan Noone when he was struck by Fahy on the back of his neck. A struggle then ensued with Declan Noone and while this took place Fahy struck Garda Halpin with a kick to the face while he lay on the ground. Handcuffs were eventually placed on Elaine Noone, however, she continued to strike out and kicked another garda in the thigh area.
CCTV footage “quite unpleasant” says inspector
Inspector Mick Coppinger added that the defendants had very little recollection of the events other than what they were shown in the CCTV footage. He added that Fahy had been in a relationship at the time with Declan Noone and that the events captured that night had been “quite unpleasant”.
Defence solicitor for both Noones, Brian Geraghty, said that his clients had co-operated with the investigation and were very remorseful. He added that his client had been in a low mood of depression at the time and that when she viewed the CCTV she had been shocked. The court heard that Elaine was very protective of her brother, who has speech and hearing difficulties, and that they were close. Mr Geraghty then said that Elaine panicked when she was being held by the night porter.
“She assaulted every single person she came into contact with,” replied Judge Mary Fahy to which Mr Geraghty explained that Noone, who has no previous convictions, had “felt hands around her face and neck”. Noting that Elaine Noone had been “totally and utterly out of control”, Judge Fahy added that usually when there is just drink involved there some “semblance of calm” when the gardai arrive, however, it was not the case here. Inspector Coppinger further explained the majority of events took place in the hotel foyer and reception area and that it was a “particularly ugly and nasty incident”.
In the case of Declan Noone, who has 13 previous convictions, Judge Fahy said that he was well known to the court and that he cannot use his disability as an excuse for his behaviour. Mr Geraghty said that there has been no offence committed in two years and that the defendant had turned his life around, regularly helping to coach underage football. He added that Declan Noone was unable to hear what was going on and saw his sister being held.
Fahy’s solicitor, Danny McGrath, also told the court that his client had fully co-operated and stressed that she had not been “an aggressor”. He added that his client had only known Declan Noone for three weeks before the incident, that she had not been arrested on the night but had come to the station voluntarily the next day when requested to do so, and that the relationship finished shortly after. Garda Sheerin then agreed with Judge Fahy’s observations that the defendant had “more or less been sucked in” and was not the main culprit. Fahy was remanded on continuing bail to July 25 next for €1,000 compensation for two injured parties and if paid it is understood that a probation bond will be applied.
In relation to Elaine Noone, the court heard that she is a part-time cleaner earning €140 per week but who has managed to save €700. Judge Fahy ordered that the €700 be handed over to the injured parties and then remanded her on continuing bail to November 12 next for a further compensation payment of €800 and if paid a suspended sentence will be applied. Declan Noone was remanded on continuing bail to Galway District Court on September 24 for the payment of €1,000 compensation and if paid a suspended sentence will be applied. Conditions were imposed for him to stay away from the hotel where the incident occured and to refrain from alcohol.