Beggar gets suspended sentence for obstruction and abuse of garda

A beggar who wilfully obstructed an elderly wheel-chair bound man and then abused a garda, calling him a “piece of s**t”, received a five month suspended sentence at the Galway District Court this week.

During questioning by Inspector Michael Coppinger, the court heard how Nicolae Tudor denied the practise of intimidating members of the public into giving him money by sticking out his legs and blocking paths. The 24-year-old man with an address at Loughgeorge, Claregalway, also denied refusing to move for an elderly man and to using foul language.

Tudor pleaded not guilty last Monday to threatening and abusive behaviour, refusing to give a name and address, failure to comply with the directions of Garda Patrick Foley, and wilful obstruction at Eyre Square on June 3, 2009.

Garda Foley gave evidence that at 12.25pm he observed an unaided elderly man in a wheelchair who was having difficulty getting past the defendant who was blocking the path by sitting down with his two legs outstretched and crutches by his side. Tudor was then asked to leave the area, however, he refused and became abusive.

“He told me to f**k off and that my time would be better spent in assisting the murder of a man who had been killed [in the early hours of that day] in Williamgate Street... He said he knew his rights and that I was a piece of shit... When I asked for his name he said ‘guess my name cop’,” said Garda Foley who then added that there were a lot of people in the area, including children, as the Volvo Ocean Race had been taking place.

Garda Foley explained that the defendant had continued to be un-coperative at the Garda station, refused to remove clothing, and that he even found the matter amusing. “I found his behaviour from start to finish was quite disgusting,” said Garda Foley.

When the defendant took the stand he said under oath that he had not been blocking the path and that he had intended to get out of the way for the elderly man but was not given the opportunity. Tudor then said that Garda Foley had called him a dog and an alien who should leave.

Inspector Coppinger immediately retorted saying that this was a serious allegation and that if it was true his solicitor would have been informed about it. Inspector Coppinger then put it to Tudor that his legs were outstretched to intimidate people into giving him money and that he had been doing this around Galway for some time.

Defence solicitor Olivia Traynor explained that her client was an unemployed married man and had abided by his bail conditions.

Judge Mary Fahy convicted the defendant and imposed a five month sentence, in total, suspended for 12 months on condition that he be placed on his own bond of €300 to be of good behaviour and to not re-offend. He was also fined €200 with three months to pay.

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