RTÉ sports journalist Pat McAuliffe claimed at Cork District Court yesterday that he was arrested for no reason when having a pint with his friend and said no one who knew him would believe what was said against him.
Mr McAuliffe, of Eden Court, Castle Rd, Blackrock, Cork, pleaded not guilty to four charges of being drunk and a danger, threatening and abusive, refusing to give his name and address, and resisting a garda at the Old Oak bar two years ago.
Judge Aingeal Ní Chondúin said in her judgement: “The two gardaí who gave evidence were sober. These two gentlemen [Mr McAuliffe and his friend] were not — their memory is not as sharp as they think.”
Following submissions by defence solicitor Frank Buttimer on the impact of the case on his employment at this stage in the judgment, Judge Ní Chondúin said she was not inhuman, was aware that there was a big sports occasion that day in which the defendant was involved, and that he had the exposure that came with media coverage of this case. She said she would strike out all charges if he paid €500 to a charitable cause.
Garda Brian Barron testified that he was on plain-clothes duty with Sergeant Michelle O’Leary at the bar on Oliver Plunkett St after midnight on November 11, 2015, investigating a serious incident that had nothing to do with the defendant.
Garda Barron said his attention was drawn to Mr McAuliffe in the bar area where he was talking to security staff.
“I noticed his irate and aggressive behaviour,” he said. “That is what drew my attention to him. I informed him I was a member of An Garda Síochána and showed him my official identification.
“He immediately began to get extremely abusive and aggressive to us. He did not seem to grasp who we were. He kept asking ‘who are you?’ and telling us to fuck off. He was holding in his hand a glass bottle of beer that he was waving around as he was threatening us and abusive to us.
“I asked him several times to put down the glass bottle and was asking him to leave the premises. He continually moved towards me. He was still aggressive with the glass bottle in his hand. I had to keep retreating. I observed he was extremely intoxicated. I demanded his name and address. He again told me to fuck off.
“I was forced to restrain Mr McAuliffe as he continually tried to push me away and resisted against my movements. I was assisted by a number of other people to restrain Mr McAuliffe.
“Although we had a patrol car, he was brought to Bridewell in a patrol van due to his aggressive behaviour.”
Cross-examining, Mr Buttimer said that Mr McAuliffe said he had simply been talking to his friend animatedly about sport when the two members of An Garda Síochána approached. Garda Barron said he was resisting, not protesting.
Mr Buttimer said: “One man’s resistance is another man’s protest.”
The solicitor said Mr McAuliffe would deny any aggression or abuse and said he did not wave any bottle. Mr Buttimer said he was drinking from a pint glass on the counter in front of him.
“You took his arms and told him he was an arrested person,” Mr Buttimer said. Garda Barron said he was physically escorted from the pub but not in that way.
Mr Buttimer said on Mr McAuliffe’s behalf: “He would have been back in that bar since. He is welcome there. No one [in the staff of Old Oak] said a word to him about it — not a murmur.”
Sgt O’Leary corroborated the evidence of Garda Barron. However, Mr Buttimer said Sgt O’Leary said the defendant was irate with one member of staff, while Garda Barron said this alleged behaviour was with three or four members of staff. He suggested that this created a doubt in the prosecution case.
Mr McAuliffe said: “Anyone who knows me as a human being in Cork City knows there would be no association to what is said in court here today about foul language. Nothing of this nature happened.”
His friend, Mark O’Sullivan, said they were doing nothing wrong, only chatting at the bar, when gardaí arrested Mr McAuliffe without reason.
Inspector Brian O’Donovan said he had never heard the like of the allegation of such a mysterious arrest where gardaí walked up to a man at a bar who said nothing to them — or to security staff — and arrested him for no reason.
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