Abusive man gets relief but no drinking money at social welfare office, court hears

A Newcastle man who, during an “alcohol rampage”, abusively damanded dole money from staff at a social welfare office and, after getting no joy, relieved himself by urinating on the exterior of the building in the presence of gardai was further remanded on continuing bail.

Stephen Rabbitte (24 ) with an address at 96 Inishannagh Park, Newcastle, Galway, appeared at Galway District Court on Monday where he pleaded guilty to two counts of threatening and abusive behaviour at Sandyvale Lawn, Headford Road, and later at St Augustine Street, on February 2, 2011. Charges for being intoxicated in a public place, obstruction, and failing to obey garda orders were withdrawn.

Inspector Mick Coppinger told the court that at 10.20am gardai received a call to go to the Sandyvale Lawn area where a group of people were extremely abusive to local residents. The defendant, who was found to be roaring and shouting, proceeded to abuse gardai and was arrested and taken to Galway Garda Station but was later released. At 11.25am that same day the defendant had made his way to the social welfare offices in St Augustine Street looking for his dole money but was extremely abusive to staff who alerted gardai. When gardai arrived they found Rabbitte to be still very abusive and when he went outside he continued to ignore gardai and proceeded to urinate against the social welfare building.

The court then heard that Rabbitte has 51 previous convictions which include two counts of tresspassing, for which he received nine-month and consective four-month sentences in November 2010. He also has convictions for theft, obstruction, and criminal damage.

“Was he out on temporary release?” asked Judge Elizabeth MacGrath, referring to the most recent previous conviction.

Defence solicitor Valerie Corcoran replied that her client had been out of custody for two weeks when the offence occurred and that he suffers from a serious alcohol and drug problem. She explained that on the date in question Rabbitte went on a serious “alcohol rampage” and had gone to the social welfare office to get more money for alcohol. Ms Corcoran added that Rabbitte had a difficult upbringing and has never fully dealt with his addiction problems.

“He is trying to deal with his issues. On this occasion it was purely due to alcohol, one [incident] led to the other. When he was released [from garda custody] he was still drunk,” said Ms Corcoran, who then asked Judge MacGrath to give her client a chance by imposing a suspended sentence which would give Rabbitte an incentive to be of good behaviour.

“The reality is people in the social welfare office are under enough pressure without someone coming in drunk, demanding money,” said Judge MacGrath who further remanded Rabbitte on continuing bail to September 26 next for a pre-sentencing probation report which is to include the consideration of a community service order.

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