Willie O’Reilly, aged 31, of Cornamaddy, Athlone, Co Westmeath, pleaded not guilty to racially abusing an Englishman and threatening to drag his son by the throat to the guards after a row about a football.
But at Tullamore District Court Judge William Early said the case against the garda was conclusive and credible and he believed he’d been so irate he had abused the victim and his son in a particularly unpleasant manner.
The court heard O’Reilly spent nine years in the army and served in Eritrea and Ethiopia before joining the gardaí.
The incident, which was reported to the Garda ombudsman occurred while O’Reilly was on probation in Portlaoise Garda station.
He was suspended in April 2010 after the row near the home of his former partner Ethel Delaney who claimed to be the victim of sustained harassment by local youths in the months before.
He’d been visiting their seven-year-old daughter when a ball landed in the garden of 19 Cloncollig, Tullamore.
Ms Delaney, who said the ball had been banging deliberately against the front door for half an hour, went outside.
Darren Mills, father of one of the boys said he saw O’Reilly emerge from the house and threaten to grab his then 14-year-old son by the throat and drag him to the Garda barracks.
He said O’Reilly admitted he was a guard and then both O’Reilly and Ms Delaney began calling him an ‘English bastard’ and an ‘English c***’.
O’Reilly was seen by a number of neighbours as he took off his jumper and invited Mr Mills to fight with him while young people watched.
Ms Delaney was seen tugging O’Reilly away, telling him he had more to lose than Mr Mills.
The garda denied the racist comments and said he was in no way racist.
He also denied threatening to use force on the teenager, taking off his jumper and squaring up to Mr Mills.
He said he simply told him to cop on and to put manners on his son.
However, he regretted that he had raised his voice and that the situation could have been handled “in a more cool manner”.
He had never had trouble visiting the area in his army uniform but said young people had a grudge against him and he has received “a lot of abuse” since he became a garda.
This included children walking in front of his car and making “comments and slurs” about him.
Judge Early found against the garda but said he had given considerable service to the state and he believed the incident was isolated.
O’Reilly will get the benefit of the Probation Act if €250 is paid to the Jack and Jill Foundation by December 7.
A similar charge against Ms Delaney was struck out.