Dolores O’Riordan walks free after judge says she was not treated differently

Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan outside Ennis Courthouse yesterday after sentencing. Picture: Eamon Ward

Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan walked free from court yesterday after a judge said she has not been treated any differently to anyone else who comes before his court in similar circumstances.

At Ennis District Court yesterday, Judge Patrick Durcan said it would be “unfair and would be unjust to criminalise” Ms O’Riordan, who had pleaded guilty to air-rage-related offences at Shannon Airport on November 10, 2014.

Judge Durcan said her actions “all occurred when the defendant was suffering from a very severe mental illness”.

Judge Durcan said that, after reading several medical reports in the case, the mental illness from which Ms O’Riordan was suffering at the time “completely inhibited her judgment”.

He said Ms O’Riordan not remembering any of the incident shows she was incapable of understanding or recording what she was doing at the time.

On his ruling not to criminalise, Judge Durcan said this was the practice of his court in public order-related cases where someone comes before the court with an unblemished character, as in this case.

He said: “Indeed, let me be utterly clear that the defendant in this case is not being treated differently to anyone else. It will be noted that many other people were treated in a like manner by this court today.”

Judge Durcan said if Ms O’Riordan pays €6,000 towards the court poor box, he will not impose any criminal conviction. He adjourned the matter for a week.

Speaking outside court afterwards, Ms O’Riordan said: “I just want to say I’m glad it’s over and I want to thank the doctors who got back my health mentally. I am feeling very good today, very positive about this upcoming year. I have new albums coming out and I am going to go back to work.”

When asked about the stigma over mental illness and whether it is time people spoke and opened up more, Ms O’Riordan said “of course” and urged people suffering similar problems to “just reach out for help.”

“I’m OK now,” she said, adding that she wants “to keep the art flowing”.

In the case, Ms O’Riordan, of Friarstown, Grange, Kilmallock, Co Limerick, pleaded guilty to assaulting Garda Shane Dawson and two members of the airport police at Shannon, Ronan O’Reilly and Eamon Power.

Ms O’Riordan pleaded guilty to resisting/wilfully obstructing Garda Dawson in the execution of his duty contrary to section 19 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994.

In January, the court heard that an out-of-control Ms O’Riordan shouted, “I’m an icon, I’m the Queen of Limerick”, during an air-rage incident at Shannon Airport, where she head-butted and spat in the face of one Garda.

Inspector Tom Kennedy told Ennis District Court that the Cranberries singer also spat in the face of and kicked out at an airport police officer.

In his judgment yesterday, Judge Durcan said Ms O’Riordan’s serious assaults were aggravated by her appalling behaviour — her attempt to escape custody and making unfounded groping allegations against a garda.

“To be fair to the defendant, a plea of guilty was submitted early and it is probably true to say that if the defendant vigorously defended these offences, the prosecution could have been in considerable difficulty,” he said.

“But the defendant adopted the approach — obviously based on legal advice — which in my view was correct.”

Judge Durcan said Ms O’Riordan accepted that a serious wrong had been done and approached the righting of that wrong in a responsible, fulsome, and wholesome manner, and had written letters of apology to the victims.

Judge Durcan said Ms O’Riordan’s payment to the poor box, along with other payments, will go towards an organisation which assists prisoners prior to release to ensure that their landing is as safe as possible.


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