A teenager who spat blood and saliva at a garda will have to gather €2,000 for court, much of which Judge Seamus Hughes said will be given to the victim.
Gary Keena of 1 Wood Road, Ballynacargey said he hadn’t meant to spit at the garda, but Judge Seamus Hughes disagreed, saying his behaviour on August 27 last was appalling.
Mullingar District Court heard how the 19-year-old had been in a row at 3.30am on Oliver Plunkett Street which was broken-up by gardaí.
All the young men left the scene as requested, except Keena, who was aggressive and spat blood on the shoulder and arm of Garda Sean Casey.
He refused to allow himself be handcuffed and lashed out at gardaí in the patrol car, where he tried to kick out the rear window.
One of seven children, Keena’s mother has passed away and his father was in court with him.
Solicitor Louis Kiernan said his young client knew his behaviour had been horrible, but he had been struck in the mouth earlier and lost a tooth.
He didn’t realise he was spitting at the garda as he cleared his mouth of blood and Keena, who is a talented soccer player who has tried out for Bohemians, said he would never spit at anyone.
But Inspector Dermot Drea said the spitting was very intentional and in line with Keena’s other behaviour on the night.
He said being spat at is very traumatic, and Judge Hughes expressed concern that spitting at gardaí means they have to immediately cease work and undergo medical tests because so many illnesses are carried in blood and saliva.
“Young people are perfectly entitled to enjoy themselves, but once gardaí come on the scene, people must immediately desist,” he said.
Otherwise we descend into lawlessness, he added.
He said gardaí who leave their wives and young children every night put their lives at risk and expose themselves to injury for what he called “a very modest wage”.
We shouldn’t be at the stage where prisoners are manacled at their feet, he said of Keena’s behaviour in the car.
As a judge, he wants to ensure that risk is not increased by the behaviour of people on the streets, and to keep Keena out of jail would send out the wrong message.
Mr Kiernan reiterated that his client is young and has no previous convictions, and the judge offered the alternative of €2,000 “as miserable compensation for the shock and horror”, suffered by Garda Casey.
He is to let the court know on April 26 how long it will take him to pay the money.