By Tom Tuite
A former Munster rugby star, who got drunk and obstructed gardaí in Dublin after running from a taxi without paying the fare, has been spared a conviction and a sentence.
Tim McGann, 35, from Sydney in Australia had come back to Ireland for a wedding but had too much to drink and made off from a taxi without paying.
He ended up getting arrested on Leeson Street and spent the night in a Garda station cell.
The father-of-one dodged a possible prison sentence after pleading guilty to theft, breach of the peace and obstructing a female garda during the incident in the early hours of Wednesday.
Judge Michael Walsh said his actions did not reflect well on him and the only way he would get released was by paying the €19.20 taxi fare and giving €500 to the Capuchin Day centre for homeless people.
The former openside flanker who signed for Munster in 2006 and remained with them for a number of seasons, has also represented Australia at IRB Sevens and schools levels.
Dublin District Court heard today that gardaí were objecting to bail, however, defence solicitor Michael French told Judge Walsh that guilty pleas were being entered to all charges.
In a summary of the prosecution evidence the court heard two gardaí responded to a report a man making off from a taxi without paying near St Stephen’s Green.
The male and female officers caught up with him and identified themselves but McGann “started shouting expletives” at which point he was arrested. He admitted that during the course of the incident he had obstructed the arrest.
The taxi driver was down €19.20 and McGann has no previous convictions, the court was told. Mr French explained his client was here for a wedding and is due to return to Australia on Monday but previously he played professionally for Munster.
He left the Copper Face Jacks night club and got the taxi but refused to pay. Mr French said McGann had “consumed far too much alcohol”.
He told the court his client was offering to pay €130 to cover the taxi fare and a donation to the Garda benevolent fund.
The solicitor said his client has a clean record and the incident “served as an eye-opener, he spent a night in custody and this morning”.
Judge Walsh said McGann was a “big boy” and he described the incident at Leeson Street as an assault on Garda Zara Johnson and that he had obstructed her in a manner that did not reflect well on him.
However, he noted he had no previous convictions and pleaded guilty at an early stage. He stressed that he would not release McGann unless he paid €500 to the homeless charity.
Dressed in a white T-shirt, blue jeans and brown shoes, McGann did not address the court.
Following a recess, his solicitor handed in €500 which Judge Walsh said would help feed impoverished Dublin people. Mr French also handed in €20 from his client to go to the taxi driver.
Judge Walsh said that given McGann’s guilty plea and the fact he did not waste the court’s time he was striking out the case.