“Absolute bully” jailed for nine months

An Athlone man convicted of threatening to burn down two homes and who assaulted arresting gardaí with a toilet seat before being subdued with pepper spray, was jailed for a total of nine months in the District Court this week (April 13 ).

Paul Berry (46 ), a father of four who gave his address as his father’s house at 34, Assumption Road, Athlone was found guilty of a total of 14 charges at a special sitting of the District Court on March 29.

On that day he had his sentencing adjourned until this week as he had to have been referred to the Circuit Court in the meantime after being convicted of an offence whilst under the shadow of a suspended sentence issued there, a matter which will be finalised on July 26.

“He has a long history of psychiatric illness and has been in and out of Roscommon hospital,” said Berry’s solicitor, Mr Tony McLynn in mitigation.

He explained how Berry, who has 36 previous convictions, had been 11 days in the ICU in Portiuncula in October after an overdose, and that four of these days were in a coma.

“His alcohol problem hasn’t in any way helped,” said Mr McLynn, who handed in a medical report on Berry prepared last month by a Mr Hallam, consultant psychiatrist in Roscommon.

Mr McLynn referred to Berry’s threats as “vacuous” but Judge Seamus Hughes disagreed.

“This man is an absolute bully. He feels he can go into a shop [July 16] with predominantly children as customers and threaten to burn down his [the shopkeeper’s] house and rape his daughter,” said the judge.

“On the other occasion [February 21, 2010] he was so enraged he ripped a toilet seat off its mounts and threw it at gardaí,” he continued.

He sentenced Berry to four months on the February 21 assault, another three months for the July 16 threats, and another two months for threatening a garda’s home on September 11 whilst on bail. All other offences were given concurrent sentences or taken into consideration. The judge set bail at €500, with an independent surety of €750.

“He has indicated he will appeal,” said Mr McLynn.

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