Interfering with gardai is ‘unacceptable’, says judge as woman jailed for six months

A district court judge has described as “unacceptable” the interference with gardai in the course of their duties before imposing a total of six months on a 20-year-old Galway woman who grabbed a Garda officer by the collar to stop an arrest.

Judge Mary Fahy made the comment at Monday’s sitting of Galway District Court where Gemma Ridgard with an address at 11 St Finbarr’s Terrace, Bohermore, appeared in custody and pleaded guilty to a number of public order and trespassing offences.

The court heard that on February 4 at 11.50pm at Dun na Coiribe the gardai on patrol had been dealing with a drunk driver when Ridgard, who was intoxicated, started shouting and roaring at them and trying to prevent the arrest of her friend. Ridgard approached Garda Suzanne Nolan, grabbing her collar in an attempt to pull the garda to the ground.

On February 11 two people, including the defendant, were seen entering an abandoned property at St Patrick’s Avenue. Gardai searched the house only to find the two people upstairs in the property having gained entry through a window. On March 11 at 11pm Ridgard was seen, in the company of another, entering an abandoned property at Fr Griffin Road. The two gained entry by the back door and were arrested for trespassing. Inspector Ernie Whyte then explained that on March 12 at 2.30am Ridgard was released from custody but that at 3.20am that same morning she was involved in a fracas in Eyre Square. When gardai arrived they found that the defendant had been very abusive to a member of the public who had been assaulted by another person. Ridgard was then re-arrested for threatening and abusive behaviour. Inspector Whyte added that the two properties where the tresspasing had taken place were both privately owned but not lived in.

Defence solicitor Alma Whelan said that her client had committed the tresspass offences at a time when she had been homeless and that on two of the occasions Ridgard had taken alcohol and had ceased to take her medication. In relation to the February 4 incident Ms Whelan added that Ridgard had “over-reacted” when the other person had been arrested. The court then heard that on March 12 Ridgard had been on her way to her home when she was set upon in Eyre Square. Ms Whelan added that Ridgard had been drinking very heavily at the time and is currently estranged from her family.

“My biggest difficulty is her inteferencee with the gardai, it is totally unacceptable and she tried to knock the garda to the ground,” said Judge Fahy who was then told that Ridgard has 31 previous convictions including sentences for thefts, public order offences, robbery, and assault.

“I will take the plea into account. Unfortunately she has a lot of previous convictions. She has got her chances as a minor,” said Judge Fahy, before convicting Ridgard and imposing a total sentence of six months in jail, backdated to March 3, and a fine of €100. Leave to appeal was also granted.

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