Case adjourned against man alleged to have assaulted off duty Garda

A case against a Ballinrobe man who allegedly assaulted an off duty garda in Claremorris was adjourned by Judge Mary Devins after she heard the evidence of the prosecution only. David Sweeny, 4 Bog Road, Ballinrobe, was represented in Claremorris District Court by a solicitor but was not in court himself as he had an illness. Judge Devins put back the case on the list to see if Ms Fiona McAllister, solicitor for Sweeny, could get in contact with him as the case was down to go ahead this week. Ms McAllister was unable to get further instructions from her client and Judge Devins let the case begin.

Garda Sergeant Michael Clesham told the court that he was off duty and in a licensed premises in Claremorris on July 11, 2009 where he had gone to play a game of darts and he met a number of other off duty members of the force there. During their conversation, he told the court that the fact that Sweeney was in the bar was raised, but he himself did not know Mr Sweeney at the time, having never had any dealings with him. He went on to tell the court that at about 1am he left the premises through a side door into an alley. In the alleyway there were a large number of teenagers and then he saw a man come towards him and bang his shoulder violently into him. Sgt Clesham went on to say that as he tried to turn around and ring the Garda station in Claremorris, the man shouted at him “F*** you shade” and he got a strong belt on the back of the head and neck. Sgt Clesham told the court that he believed Sweeney was trying to provoke him into an altercation, and that Sweeney then ran off down the alley way and came back on to the street through another entrance a short time later; he wasn’t wearing a shirt and there was a girl calling his name.

Sgt Clesham continued his evidence, saying that he went out on to the street and tried to speak to Sweeney from a distance as he had got in touch with the Garda station and was told that it would be some time before the Garda car was there. He said Sweeney told him, “I don’t care if I do time”. Sgt Clesham told the court that he was in fear until the Garda car arrived and Sweeney was arrested.

Ms McAllister, acting for Sweeny, asked Sgt Clesham why in his statement he said that Sweeney apologised to him, something which he did not mention in his direct evidence. Sgt Clesham told the court that during his conversation on the street, Sweeney did apologise to him for hitting a garda.

The prosecution also presented evidence from Garda witnesses in relation to the arrest of Sweeney and to his proper address, which had caused some confusion, with a number of different addresses being used, but both witnesses told the court that they did not see the alleged assault. Judge Devins decided that, as the only evidence in relation to the incident she heard was from accuser, she would have to adjourn the case until April 18, and issue a bench warrant for Sweeney’s arrest as he did not appear in court.

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