Sentencing adjourned for Longford man who assaulted medics

A Longford man who assaulted medics from two fire brigade ambulance crews called to assist him during one night of drunken aggression has had his sentence adjourned at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

David Hughes (aged 21) assaulted Cormac Cahill as he tried to assist him into an ambulance after he had been vomiting blood and later assaulted Darren Burns who was attending to him because gardaí feared he might harm himself.

Hughes, of Teffia Park, Longford, pleaded guilty to assaulting Mr Cahill at Fairview, Dublin and Mr Burns at Clontarf Garda Station causing them harm on October 24, 2008.

Judge Tony Hunt said the first stop for people accused of assaulting gardaí or fire brigade and ambulance crews should be prison but said he was taking into account Hughes was a sick man due to alcoholism and depression.

Judge Hunt said it was a highly unusual case and Hughes was “clearly one of those people who should never be allowed to drink.” He adjourned sentencing until July to allow a probation report be prepared.

Garda Mark Hannon told Ms Anne Maire Lawlor BL, prosecuting, that Mr Cahill was part of a Dublin Fire Brigade ambulance crew who attended at a kebab shop in Fairview. He saw Hughes, who had been vomiting blood inside, exiting the premises with friends and went to assist him into the ambulance.

After Hughes lashed out and hit Mr Cahill the gardaí were alerted and Gda Hannon attended at the scene.

Gda Hannon said when he arrived Hughes was sitting on the path being assisted by friends. When he attempted to restrain him Hughes became aggressive and lunged out. Mr Cahill assisted him and Hughes bit him on the thigh.

Mr Cahill said in his 13 years in the emergency services he had never encountered anyone so aggressive.

Gda Hannon said Hughes told him to “f*** off” when he asked for his details and continued to struggle violently. Other gardaí came to his assistance and Hughes was eventually handcuffed.

Hughes continued to struggle violently and repeatedly attempted to kick gardaí putting him in a patrol car.

On arrival at Clontarf garda station he refused to be removed from the patrol car voluntarily by again kicking out at gardaí. In the gardaí station he spat out at those around him and attempted to bite a garda.

Gda Hannon said an ambulance crew was called because gardaí feared Hughes might hurt himself. Mr Burns attended and attempted to talk to Hughes but he continued to shout and scream. When Mr Burns got closer Hughes headbutted him causing a laceration to his inner lip.

Hughes had to be restrained by gardaí and strapped into an ambulance. He was taken to hospital and had to have a face mask put on him to stop him spitting at people. He was put into a private room to minimise disruption to other patients.

Mr Burns said he had never encountered anyone so violent in his 29 years in the emergency services.

Hughes was arrested the following January and told gardaí he remembered little of the night as he had been so drunk. He repeatedly said he was terribly sorry and fully accepted responsibility for his actions.

Gda Hannon said Hughes had no previous convictions at the time but had come to garda attention for a domestic incident at his father's home during a relapse into alcoholism over last Christmas.

Gda Hannon agreed with defence counsel, Mr Garret Baker BL, that Hughes was “out of his mind on the night” and tests revealed he had taken only alcohol. Mr Baker said the ambulance crew were called after Hughes vomited blood in the kebab shop which was often a sign of alcoholism.

Gda Hannon agreed that Hughes was well mannered, gentle and polite when sober and could not comprehend how he had injured people that were trying to assist him. He agreed Hughes had attended at the Rutland Centre before this offence in an attempt to deal with his addiction and has made renewed efforts since his arrest.

Mr Baker said Hughes' behaviour was “deplorable” and submitted he felt genuine remorse for his actions.

He said Hughes lived with his family in Longford who were law abiding people shocked by his behaviour.

Mr Baker said Hughes was bright academically as a child until he began drinking heavily as a 14-year-old. He said when Hughes relapsed into alcoholism last Christmas his father insisted he be remanded in custody after a disturbance in the family home.

Hughes was psychiatrically assessed during his three weeks in Castlerea prison earlier this year and found to be suffering from depressive disorder. He has been prescribed antidepressants and his father has accepted him back into the home.

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