By Gordon Deegan
A judge said today “it wasn't a swim job, it was a paddle job” after hearing that a nearby river was only one foot deep where Gardaí apprehended a 25-year-old escapee.
At Kilrush District Court, Judge Patrick Durcan made his comment after hearing an outline of Kilrush man, Anthony Sweeney’s escape from Garda custody at Kilrush District courthouse in July 2017.
Giving an outline of the facts, Sgt Aiden Lonergan of Ennis Garda Station said that on July 18, 2017, Mr Sweeney was in the custody area of the court and was being disruptive.
Sgt Lonergan said that as a Garda prepared to put hand-cuffs on Mr Sweeney outside court to bring him to Kilrush Garda Station, Mr Sweeney ran and there was a foot chase on Moore Street outside the court-house in an attempt by Mr Sweeney to evade Gardai.
Sgt Lonergan said that Mr Sweeney ran through nearby woods and into a river in an attempt to lose Gardai during the chase.
Sgt Lonergan said that one member in pursuit of Mr Sweeney got into the river and arrested Mr Sweeney concerning his escape from lawful custody.
The sergeant said that Mr Sweeney of St Senan’s Terrace, Kilrush swung his right arm back connecting his right elbow to the right side of the Garda's head.
Sgt Lonergan said that Mr Sweeney did break free briefly while in the river and had to be apprehended once more.
Judge Durcan asked: “Was this river deep?”
In response, Mr Sweeney showed with his hands that it measured around a foot deep.
In reply, Judge Durcan said: “It wasn’t a swim job, it was a paddle job”
Sgt Lonergan said that Mr Sweeney has 26 previous convictions. Prior to the case proceeding, Mr Sweeney told Judge Durcan: “For the first time in my life I want a fair trial.”
Opting to let Mr Sweeney off with the escape, Judge Durcan said: “There is always a natural instinct - in every human, there is bit of a wild animal. There is that natural instinct.”
Referring to the recent appointment of Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, Judge Durcan said: “The other factor I have to bear in mind is that if I record a conviction in this case, it could lead to questions being asked.
Addressing Sgt Lonergan, Judge Durcan said: “There might be a wisdom in not recording a conviction. I am not saying that from the defendant’s point of view, because new forces have come from the North - different approaches.”
Mr Sweeney pleaded guilty to the escape and to unlawfully using a pedal cycle without the consent of its owner on Monday night at Market Square, Kilrush.
Recently appointed Garda Kevin Stapleton replied ‘it is Judge’ when asked by Judge Durcan if Mr Sweeney is his “first scalp”.
Judge Durcan complimented Garda Stapleton on his “Limerick hurler like speed” when catching Mr Sweeney on his bike and arresting him.
However, Mr Sweeney interjected to say: “I stopped actually.”
Judge Durcan imposed a fine of €100 for the bike offence and took the escape offence into consideration and Mr Sweeney walked free from Garda custody.