'I am deeply sorry', man who caused €66k worth of damage to hotel whilst naked tells court

A businessman who caused over €66,000 of damage to a hotel while naked said he wants to be a role model for his son after he puts his court case behind him.

Marketing manager Eamon Devlin damaged four bedrooms in a Donegal hotel — and blamed a cocktail of medication and drink for his actions.

Letterkenny Circuit Court heard how the 41-year-old had wrecked his own room and then arrived in the lobby of Ballyliffin Lodge Hotel to tell staff his room had been ransacked by “gypsies”.

His lawyers pleaded not guilty on his behalf, claiming his consumption of tablets with alcohol had led to a case of “involuntary intoxication”. He said he was taking tablets for an ear infection.

A two-day trial heard how Devlin booked into the hotel with his three-year-old son as he was going through a divorce and wanted to spend time with his child.

They enjoyed a day out playing pitch and putt at Ballyliffin Golf Club before having a swim and some bar food at the hotel.

He had a pint of Carlsberg, an Irish coffee, and took a bottle of wine to his room. At 11.30pm, Devlin ordered another bottle of wine for the room.

In the early hours of the morning, around 5am, Devlin arrived in the reception of the hotel naked, carrying his son, who was in his pyjamas.

He asked staff to come to his room, 214, claiming there were “gypsies” in there and he needed to get them out.

Nobody else in the room

Night porter Seamus Henry went to the room but found nothing wrong and that there was nobody else in his room.

Around 6am, the night porter received a phonecall from room 215 complaining of shouting in the accused’s rooms, which had been going on for half an hour.

Accompanied by another staff member, Mr Henry went upstairs and noticed the corridor was flooded.

They used the master key to gain entry to room 214 but had to force the door as it was damaged. Mr Henry said the room was under three inches of water, sinks had been pulled off the bathroom wall, and there was broken glass everywhere.

The court was told the water later spread to three other rooms and at one stage it appeared the ceiling of one room almost collapsed.

Hotel manager Colm O’Kane said he was phoned at home to tell him what had happened and he arrived a short time later.

He said Devlin asked him: “Did you see them, did you see them? The gypsies? Yous are doing a great job.”

Devlin, a marketing manager with a software company in the North, was arrested and interviewed at Buncrana Garda station.

He blamed a combination of stress, medication, and alcohol for his behaviour on the night and offered to pay compensation for the damage, adding that he was deeply ashamed of what had happened.

He told gardaí: “I’m a big boy. If that phone call to room service hadn’t been made, I wouldn’t be here.”

He said he recalls going into the bathroom but the room went dark and he could not find a way out and believed the gypsies were in the room taking his son.

A jury found Mr Devlin guilty and at Letterkenny Circuit Court yesterday, he apologised to the staff of the hotel and the gardaí.

The court heard that at the time of the incident, Devlin’s ex-wife had told him she was planning to relocate to the US with her son and he was under severe stress.

Devlin said he is trying to get his life back together and can pay back €250 a month to the hotel for the damage of over €66,000.

“I apologise to the court for what happened,” he said. “I am deeply sorry and ashamed. It was totally out of character and it was meant to be a fun weekend with my son. It was irrational behaviour and it should not have happened.”

Judge John Aylmer adjourned the case until Friday for sentence.

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