By Ruaidhrí Giblin
A drunk man who attacked an inn's head chef after ordering carvery lunch, as well as an off-duty garda who had also come for lunch, has had his jail term increased following an appeal by prosecutors.
Michael Kaiser (24), from Poland but with a last address in Naas, Co Kildare, had pleaded not guilty to burglary and assault causing harm to an off-duty garda in Naas on July 1, 2016.
He was found guilty and sentenced to two years imprisonment with the final six months suspended by Judge Karen O’Connor on January 20, 2017.
The Director of Public Prosecutions successfully sought a review of Kaiser’s sentence on grounds that it was “unduly lenient”. The Court of Appeal agreed and jailed him for two-and-a-half years with credit for time served.
Giving judgment in the three-judge court, Mr Justice John Edwards said Kaiser and a co-offender were drinking pints in the Ivy Inn, Main Street, Naas on the day in question.
It was during the 2016 European Championships. Both were sitting in the area ordinarily reserved for those eating carvery lunch. They were boisterous and a little bit noisy.
Around noon, they were told that if they wished to continue drinking they would have to either order food or go to the bar. They ordered food and began to eat.
CCTV footage showed the two men leave the carvery area and make their way towards the rear of the bar. They both entered the kitchen area without permission (giving rise to the burglary charge) and both were said to have been looking for the head chef or boss having asked where he could be found.
Having found the head chef they attacked him. Kaiser’s co-offender equipped himself with a squeegee type mop and struck the chef a number of times. As they were leaving the kitchen area, the chef was kicked and punched.
Off-duty garda James Keating had come to get carvery lunch when he noticed a commotion.
Upon hearing of the attack, Garda Keating walked out to the car park area and saw Kaiser and his co-offender walking away. He approached them, telling them he was a garda. Kaiser lifted his fists and punched Garda Keating in the face.
He suffered a laceration to his face. Passers-by observed that he appeared to be “very groggy”.
CCTV showed Kaiser and his co-offender sprinting away. A couple of days later they were located and arrested. Kaiser denied it was him on the CCTV footage. Other garda interviews produced nothing of evidential value.
Mr Justice Edwards said Kaiser was a Polish national who had come to Ireland at the beginning of 2016 for the purpose of securing employment and “starting a better life for himself”. At a young age he had been left to his own devices, his parents having little interest in the lives of their children.
He had no previous convictions and was described as an excellent employee - the type of employee that comes into work half an hour early to start his shift, according to his Kildare based employer at the sentence hearing.
Mr Justice Edwards said Kaiser was imprisoned from July 2016 to July 2017 when he was deported by order of the Minister for Justice and required to remain outside the State for two years.
Within three months, however, he had returned to Ireland in breach of this requirement, the court heard, and is currently in custody on separate charges that will “ultimately be dealt with in the Circuit Court”.
Counsel for the DPP, Lorcan Staines BL, submitted that the sentencing judge got the balance wrong. Mr Staines said the sentencing judge veered too much in the direction of rehabilitation and not enough in the direction of deterrence.
The Court of Appeal had “no hesitation” in concluding that Kaiser’s sentence was unduly lenient.
Mr Justice Edwards said both assaults were serious. The assault in the kitchen was aggravated by the use of a weapon and the assault outside was aggravated by the fact it was committed on an off-duty garda in the performance of his duty.
He said Kaiser was entitled to 12 months allowance for his previous good character and positive employment history.
Mr Justice Edwards, who sat with President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, resentenced Kaiser to three-and-a-half years imprisonment with the final 12 months suspended.
He was required to enter into a good behaviour bond and he undertook to be so bound.