Addict whose syringe pricked gardaí gets two years

A seriously ill drug addict whose concealed syringe pricked two gardaí attempting to arrest her has received a two-year sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Tara McNeill (aged 33), who suffers from several serious drug related diseases, was "irate and foaming at the mouth" as she struggled with and verbally abused arresting gardai following a street fight before refusing to exit a Garda patrol van in which she had been transported.

McNeill, of Dolphin Road, Drimnagh, pleaded guilty to assaulting two gardaí and placing a syringe in a manner likely to injure another at Fleet Street on December 14, 2007.

Sergeant Anthony Buckley told defence counsel, Mr Conor Devally SC, that the two gardaí pricked by the syringe had been affected psychologically by the incident but were now back at work.

Judge Frank O'Donnell suspended the last year of McNeill's sentence but added that "gardaí who are out on duty at night must be protected and supported".

Sgt Buckley told Ms Martina Baxter BL, prosecuting, that two gardaí responding to reports of an altercation found a number of people surrounding McNeill and another woman physically fighting in the street.

Gardaí eventually succeeded in separating the women who initially refused to let go of the other's hair. They told the group to move away and most complied, but McNeill, who was "irate and foaming at the mouth", was verbally abusive.

She continued to shout abuse as her then boyfriend obstructed the gardaí's attempts to handcuff her. When McNeill was eventually handcuffed she began to lunge forward with her full body weight and one of the gardai felt something prick his thumb.

McNeill was secured against a wall until a gardai patrol van containing an internal cell arrived and she was brought to a garda station with her boyfriend. The yard was secured before the van was opened and the pair refused to exit the back of the van.

McNeill continued to spit and struggle before lunging at one of the gardai trying to get her out of the van. He felt a "sharp pinch" and discovered he had sustained a puncture wound to his hand through his protective gloves.

Gardaí suspected she had an open syringe on her person and when asked, she handed over a syringe.

Mr Devally said McNeill was no longer in a relationship with her boyfriend of that time, with whom she has two children. He said she was attempting to address her drug problem.


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