Eight months for assaults on gardai at Galway courthouse

A Galway woman who after receiving a sentence at Galway District Court last year lashed out at gardai assaulting and threatening to kill a number of officers, even resorting to biting one garda breaking his skin, was sentenced to serve a total of eight months in jail as well as receiving a six months suspended sentence with strict conditions that she address her alcohol problems.

Caroline O’Brien (31 ) with an address at 77 An Sean Bhaile, Doughiska, appeared before Judge Mary Fahy at Monday’s court sitting where she pleaded guilty to a number of charges including being intoxicated in a public place, resisting a peace officer, threatening and abusive behaviour, one count of assaulting Garda Evan McKenna causing harm, and four counts of assaulting Garda Linda McManus, Garda Patrick Foley, Garda Ciara Carey, and Garda Mark Kelly.

Inspector Ernie Whyte told the court that the most serious incident occurred at the Galway courthouse on July 4, 2011. O’Brien’s had received a sentence after her case had been heard and at 4.30pm she had tried to leave the courthouse but was stopped by two garda officers. As gardai attempted to place handcuffs on O’Brien she began shouting. When taken out of the court room into the lobby area by three gardai she became increasingly abusive, issuing threats at Garda Mark Kelly that she would “f**king kill” him. The defendant then spat at Garda Kelly before kicking out at another garda who was pregnant at the time.

As gardai attempted to escort O’Brien to the awaiting patrol car she continued to kick out at them striking Garda Linda McManus in the stomach and she spat at Garda Patrick Foley in the face before threatening to kill a number of garda officers present. Inspector Whyte then added that as O’Brien was being driven away from the courthouse she bit Garda Evan McKenna “breaking the skin”.

The court heard that on July 14 this year at 10.30pm gardai received a call from the defendant’s husband and arrived at An Sean Bhaile to find O’Brien in an very intoxicated state and extremely abusive. On July 25 gardai on patrol in the Eyre Square area found O’Brien to be again in a very intoxicated state, so much so that an ambulance was called, however she refused treatment. She was arrested and brought to Clifden District Court the next day and remanded in custody.

“Her behaviour was appalling, assaulting every garda she came in contact with,” said a shocked Judge Fahy who later added that O’Brien needs to take serious steps to address her alcohol problems.

Defence solicitor Sarah O’Dowd told the court that her client, a married mother of five, had been upset about some of the things said during the hearing that day. She added that O’Brien had gone to the grave of her dead brother at lunchtime, had purchased a litre of vodka and coke, and drank most of it by the time she came back to court. Ms O’Dowd added that her client wished to apologise for her behaviour and that O’Brien has only been in trouble in the last few years.

Inspector Whyte said that O’Brien has a previous conviction for threatening and abusive behaviour and assault for which she received a six month suspended sentence in January 2012. She also received sentences in 2011 for theft, possession of knives, criminal damage and trespass as well as convictions in 2010 for public order offences and resisting/obstructing a peace officer.

Stressing that it is very serious to attack someone by biting them and breaking the skin Judge Fahy convicted O’Brien of assault causing harm and imposed a sentence of five months in jail. For the four remaining assault charges O’Brien was convicted and sentenced to a further three months in jail, to run consecutively, a three month sentence, to run concurrently, and a six month sentence suspended for two years on condition that she enter into a bond of €500 to be of good behaviour, not to come to garda notice, attend alcohol treatment, Probation Services and any course recommended by them. A two month sentence, to run concurrently, was also imposed for threatening and abusive behaviour as well as a fine of €200.

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