A Kilmichael man, with the last year of his three-year jail term suspended for dragging a teenage girl into a building and assaulting her, had that last year activated yesterday for becoming aggressive with the probation service.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said yesterday: “This is a worrying and upsetting case. This man was given a chance by the court with what was a structured (partly suspended) sentence. Those conditions were for O’Neill’s benefit — given his history — and for the benefit of society. But he has patently, for whatever reason, failed to (take the opportunity).
“This is an extremely serious opinion by the probation service that due to not feeling safe (with the defendant) they are not able to supervise him.”
The judge activated the suspended part of the sentence which effectively saw the defendant commencing another year in jail from yesterday.
Shane O’Neill, aged 47, of Shanacashel, Kilmichael, Macroom, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing harm to a 16-year-old girl. Following his arrest for this, he tried to escape and assaulted gardaí in the process. He later pleaded guilty to charges arising out of that.
The judge said at the original sentencing hearing: “The circumstances of the assault on the girl were quite bizarre, and worryingly there was no reason and no explanation.
“Months after the assault he went to the probation service and he gave an explanation in relation to white vans in his head and convoluted this into the incident with the victim.”
Sergeant Katrine Tansley said O’Neill was interviewed at length about the attack on the teenage girl, who was dragged around in the office building until she managed to escape. The sergeant said O’Neill never said anything about the white van.
Sgt Tansley said he cried twice and would talk about everything and anything rather than the matter under investigation, and did not refer to the white van at any time during interview.
The defendant pleaded guilty to three additional charges, namely attempting to escape from lawful custody at Macroom Garda Station on July 26, and assaulting Garda Carmel Nash and Garda Kieran Cremin at the garda station on that day.
Sgt Tansley said O’Neill asked to be taken to the bathroom and when at the sink he threw water at gardaí and pushed them out of his way. He ran into the yard at the back of the station and was re-arrested after a violent struggle.
Peter O’Flynn, defending, said at the original sentencing the actions of the accused were out of character. He said the accused had come off a 12-hour shift and he believed that two days earlier the driver of a white van had tried to drive him off the road. The victim in the case made no reference to the accused warning her about danger from a white van.
She said he asked her the time and she told him it was 5pm. He repeatedly asked her the time until she showed him the time on her phone. He then accosted her, grabbed her by the arm, and forced her backwards.
She managed to escape and ran up the stairs of the office, screaming for help. However, he caught her again, grabbed her by the arm and waist, and dragged her towards the door.
Sgt Tansley said the victim felt that he was trying to abduct or take her and she was highly distressed.
The victim said O’Neill scared the life out of her and since the incident occurred, she was very nervous of strangers.
Judge Ó Donnabháin said he had never heard evidence like he heard yesterday from the probation service about a concern for the safety of staff because of the aggressive behaviour of a defendant towards them. The judge said he was sure such evidence was only given by the probation service after reflection and with reason.