An unemployed man whose High Court-ordered retrial required a new judge, a barrister, two solicitors and 14 gardaí to spend the day in court, was eventually sentenced to nine months in jail in the District Court this week (April 11 ).
“I’m trying to save the taxpayers money,” were the first words in evidence slurred by Patrick Greene (37 ), of 28, St Mel’s Terrace, Athlone, as he tried to shout down stand-in judge Sean MacBride in a trial in which he accused two named gardaí of giving him drink whilst he was in custody.
Greene had been originally sentenced to six months in jail by Judge Seamus Hughes in January for threatening to bite his sister’s face off in breach of a safety order taken out by his mother, but saw this immediately doubled when he roared a string of obsceneties at the bench.
On January 27, Greene changed his legal aid solicitor from Padraig Quinn in Athlone to Cahir O’Higgins in Dublin, and saw a High Court appeal upheld, and his case returned to the District Court in Athlone for re-trial.
To maintain probity, usual judge Seamus Hughes stood down from this task, and organised a replacement to hear the re-trial.
In court this week, however, Judge MacBride learned both Greene’s mother and sister did not want to pursue any charges in relation to breaches of the safety order, and subsequently struck out four of these.
“I’ve buried half me family - two sons, a daughter, a husband, and a brother... I’m not afraid of Patrick ... my son won’t do me any harm ... I’m just gone eejity, so I am. I’m bawlin’ the whole time, so I am. Spend most me nights cryin’. I don’t want to lose another son,” said Greene’s mother Winnie in evidence.
However, Greene still had a number of similar outstanding charges - two of which he was pleading not guilty to - so Judge McBride chose to hear these.
Garda Brian Keane told how he had been called by the defendant’s mother on May 30 to deal with Greene, and tried to reason with him while he was drunk on the steps outside the family home.
“He informed me if I laid a hand on me he would take my f**king head off, and that he didn’t give a f**k about jail,” said Garda Keane.
Judge MacBride asked Garda Keane how intoxicated was Greene on the night.
“He was slouched, and there was a strong smell of liquor on him. I wouldn’t have enough of a grasp of English to explain how drunk he was, but he was extremely, extremely drunk,” said Garda Keane.
Evidence of his arrest was given, as was evidence of his care in custody which was given by two other gardaí who had to be called.
When Greene took the stand, he grabbed the Bible of the court clerk, and rattled off the oath by rote, but was told by the judge that was not how it was done.
“But I’m only trying to save taxpayers’ money,” pleaded Greene, without any hint of irony.
He went on to say Garda Kieran Fitzgerald had it in for him on the night in question (Garda Fitzgerald wasn’t involved in the arrest ), that there was no record of his arrest in the custody log (Garda Gillian Small had already given evidence that he had refused to sign it on the night ), made allegations - without details - of an assault, and then accused two named gardaí of giving him alcohol whilst in custody.
“You’re not suffering delusions?” asked an incredulous Judge MacBride, who then suspended the trial for a few minutes because of Greene’s increasingly erratic behaviour.
On his return, Greene contradicted himself a number of times in cross-examination from Inspector Aidan Minnock, and Judge MacBride had enough.
He praised Garda Keane for his “evidence without any agenda”, and praised Garda Jerry Hayes for “the most humane manner” and “highest standards of ethics” in which he cared for Greene in custody.
Judge MacBride sentenced Greene to a total of nine months in prison, a period he deemed long enough for the defendant to recieve the necessary rehab assistance.