A garda with a “string of commendations”, who was convicted of assaulting two women in a row about a lift in a car, has been given a six-month suspended sentence.
Brian Hanrahan, aged 33, a father of two from Ballintotty, Nenagh, Co Tipperary, was convicted earlier this year of two offences of assault causing harm.
He had denied the charges of punching and kicking one woman and of hitting the other.
The row was about payment for a lift home, after a night out in Nenagh.
At a sentencing hearing, Judge Elizabeth MacGrath described the assault on Emer Kelly, who was punched in the jaw and kicked, as “serious” and said that the other victim, Aisling King, had been acting as a “good Samaritan” by coming to her friend’s aid.
Ms King was slapped on the face.
Sentencing had been adjourned in February to allow for the preparation of probation and psychological reports relating to Hanrahan.
He had no previous convictions.
Mr Hanrahan was in the news in 2015, when he was shot in the back and leg, during a botched robbery at an ATM machine in New Orleans, in the US.
He was on holidays. Hanrahan was hospitalised there and underwent emergency surgery, before being allowed to return home and, eventually, back to garda duty.
His solicitor, Daniel O’Gorman, said Brian Hanrahan was a garda with “a string of commendations,” and an excellent work record and was a “great colleague” and very popular.
Alcohol was “certainly a factor” in the events on the night of the offences, Mr O’Gorman said, but Dr O’Keeffe, who carried out a psychological report, felt the New Orleans attack may have played a role.
“My client was a victim of an horrific, unprovoked attack, where he was mugged while making his way back to a hotel, as could happen to anybody, in any place in the world, these days. He was shot twice, an unarmed man on his way back to a hotel.”
Dr O’Keeffe said Mr Hanrahan had been left with a sense of “heightened tension” and this was probably what led to the offences.
The defendant was left in a “precarious situation” by this court case and it would have ramifications beyond the walls of the courtroom, Mr O’Gorman said.
Hanrahan had admitted to Dr O’Keeffe that he “shouldn’t have hit the lady”.
The solicitor asked for “leniency” and to give Mr Hanrahan time to pay compensation to the victims.
The court heard there were witness expenses totalling €1,206.10, including €510 for dental treatment needed by Emer Kelly, as a result of being punched in the face.
Judge MacGrath said she had ordered a psychological report because of the serious incident suffered by Hanrahan in New Orleans, and it came to her mind that he might have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
However, Dr O’Keeffe’s report noted that the defendant was not suffering from PTSD before the assaults in Nenagh.
“The assault, in particular on Ms Kelly, was a serious assault on the night in question,” the judge said. “Mr Hanrahan, with his background, ought to have been able to deal with that matter.
“These matters are deserving of a custodial sentence.”
Judge MacGrath decided that, in view of the matters outlined by Mr O’Gorman, and the fact that Hanrahan had no previous convictions, she would suspend the prison sentences.
She imposed a six-month sentence, suspended for two years, for the assault on Emer Kelly, and a concurrent three-month sentence, suspended for a year, for the assault on Aisling King.
Emer Kelly’s mother, Pauline, said the last 12 months had been “horrific” for the victims.
Asling King’s mother, Angela, said: “The girls are very upset. Obviously, they are never going to get over what happened to them. They want it over and done with, and we hope it won’t drag on now, with an appeal. It will affect them for longer and we just want it over and done with.
“He is a 6ft guy and no way should a man hit a woman like that.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved