Heroin addict accused of attacking 80-year-old at Mass

David O'Donovan at Cork Court. Pic: Michael Mac Sweeney/Cork Courts.

A Polish woman attending Mass in Cork came to the assistance of an 80-year-old man who was attacked by a heroin addict smashing a collection box, it was claimed yesterday.

This was the allegation made at Cork District Court in the course of a bail application.

David O’Donovan was arrested by Detective Garda Padraig Harrington and brought before the court yesterday. O’Donovan, aged 41, with an address at 6 Glendalough, Grenville Place, Cork, applied via defence solicitor Frank Buttimer to be released on bail.

Mr O’Donovan had been charged with assault causing harm to an 80-year-old man at St Augustine’s church, Grand Parade, Cork, on Saturday evening, March 24.

Detective Garda Harrington said his grounds for objecting to bail included the seriousness of the alleged offence and the strength of evidence supporting the charge.

“It is alleged that Mr O’Donovan entered St Augustine’s church and began breaking into a charity collection box,” he said. “He was confronted by the 80-year-old injured party.

It is alleged that he kicked the injured party in the groin and knocked off his glasses and then stamped on the glasses on the ground and punched the 80-year-old man into the left eye.

“It was broken up by a Polish lady who was at Mass. The Polish lady later identified [the defendant] to me at Centra, approximately one hour later.”

Det Garda Harrington said another ground for objecting to bail was that the accused was, by his own admission, addicted to heroin.

“I believed, if released, he will commit crimes to feed his habit,” he said.

Mr Buttimer said he was formally instructed to make an application for bail.

Mr Buttimer said the accused had permanent, secure accommodation. He said that while the detective was right to state that the defendant had a heroin problem, this was now being addressed by the accused in Arbour House through a maintenance programme and counselling.

Det Garda Harrington said that gardaí had to get a doctor on Saturday night as Mr O’Donovan was coming down from the effects of some substance.

Mr Buttimer said the accused would adhere to any signing on and curfew conditions and would abstain from the use of any substances. The solicitor also said he had no history of violence and was an inoffensive type of man.

Det Garda Harrington accepted this but said of the alleged incident in church on Saturday evening:

This was a completely unprovoked attack on an 80-year-old man. My fear is that it would happen again.

Judge Olann Kelleher refused bail and said: “This is an allegation of a serious offence. It is accepted he has a drug problem, he is addicted to heroin.”

Mr O’Donovan was remanded in custody until tomorrow.

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