Judge William Earley has described as “intolerable” the behaviour of a Mullingar man whom he said “dragged gardaí around the street” and showed poor example to small children.
“Does this happen much in Mullingar?” he asked Inspector Jarlath Folan as he found Oliver Dinnegan (34 ), 307 Dalton Park, Mullingar guilty of public order offences.
“Yes, from time to time,” replied the inspector.
The judge said Mr Dinnegan’s family “all seem to think four to five-year-old underage children should be in the company of drunken people after midnight so they can learn how to get into fights and abuse gardaí and replicate their behaviour in years to come.”
Oliver Dinnegan was sentenced to four months imprisonment for threatening abusive behaviour, despite pleading not guilty at Mullingar District Court.
Garda Michael Daniels gave evidence that he had been called to the greyhound stadium on March 15 because of an alleged disturbance. While there he spoke to Oliver Dinnegan and advised his wife Lucy to bring him home because he was intoxicated.
A large group of the Dinnegan family, who had been celebrating a confirmation moved onto the street and while the garda was observing the crowd, he saw a row break out between Oliver Dinnegan and his wife. He was “speaking loudly, very agitated, and getting aggressive”. He then saw Mrs Dinnegan shove him slightly and he fell backwards over a small child.
He then became “highly aggressive” and began shouting and roaring on the street where there were a lot of people and children present.
When he and Garda Cathal Daly intervened, Mr Dinnegan became more aggressive and resisted arrest.
Mr Dinnegan dragged the two gardaí around ten feet from the main entrance of the dog track onto the bonnet of a car and then to the ground.
There was “a big tussle” with both gardaí on top of Mr Dinnegan and they had “a serious job to place the handcuff on one hand”.
The garda said the crowd was hostile and there were a lot of public order issues going on around them at the time.
Mr Louis Kiernan said his client was upset because an ambulance had been called to tend to his niece, Sarah Groome who had been seriously assaulted earlier in the evening. She was taken to hospital the following day as a result.
However the garda said that he had not been informed of that by Mr Dinnegan though he did become aware of it later. Ms Groome made no complaint to Gardaí until September.
The garda insisted that there had been an altercation between Mr and Mrs Dinnegan though they both denied this.
Garda Cathal Daly said he had observed Mr Dinnegan’s attitude. He had been “getting up close and invading her space”.
“There was a slight push from Lucy Dinnegan and Oliver Dinnegan cut loose,” he said.
He said Mr Dinnegan “resisted straight away” when he was told he was about to be arrested for a public order offence and “put up a right good battle to resist the second cuff”.
Garda Gareth O’Brien gave supporting evidence of seeing his colleagues “engaged in a struggle” with Mr Dinnegan. He arrested another male who tried to prevent Mr Dinnegan’s arrest.
In the witness box, Mr Dinnegan said he “was intoxicated, but I was in no way aggressive or anything like that”. He admitted to drinking seven or eight pints.
When it was put to him that Garda Daniels had denied any allegation on the night that Sarah Groome had been assaulted he replied “That’s all lies”.
In evidence Ms Groome said she had made a complaint to Gardaí about the assault just five weeks ago “because I was going to let the fellow away with it but I ended up going back to the Garda station.” She said she had suffered a fractured jaw and swelling on the brain.
Mr Kiernan told the court that Mr Dinnegan’s niece had suffered “a genuine and what could have been a serious assault” and that was the reason for the tension at the stadium.
However, Judge Earley said that was the reason to seek the assistance of Gardaí.
“It is quite intolerable that Oliver Dinnegan or anyone else behave in this way to Gardaí,” he said, imposing a four month sentence for threatening behaviour and taking a public intoxication charge into consideration.
He put in place recognisance to allow Mr Dinnegan appeal his conviction but refused to reduce the independent surety of €1,500, half of which is to be lodged and stating that the person providing it is to be approved by the State.