During the air rage incident on November 10, 2014, Insp Tom Kennedy told Ennis District Court yesterday, the 44-year-old Cranberries singer spat in the face of and kicked out at an airport police officer (APO).
Insp Kennedy said Ms O’Riordan had become unruly on board an Aer Lingus flight from JFK to Shannon during which she stood on the foot of flight attendant, Carmel Coyne, and hurt her ankle severely.
“She was in the first-class area and had become rude in contacts with other passengers,” he said. “She became difficult, unruly, making her presence felt, walking around.”
He said after Ms O’Riordan stood on Ms Coyne’s foot, Ms Coyne alerted the captain and the assistance of the airport police was requested.
He said that on touching down APO Ronan O’Reilly said Ms O’Riordan “became very difficult towards him and went to hit him in the face, but missed. He is quite tall. She was able to hit in the shoulder, and kicked him in the waist area.”
Insp Kennedy said Ms O’Riordan spat in the face of another APO, Eamon Power, “and he had to restrain her and she started to kick back at him hitting him in the shins”.
The APOs requested Garda back-up while Ms O’Riordan was provided with oxygen and an ambulance was called due to concern for her welfare.
He said: “However, Ms O’Riordan came out of the ambulance and went to run towards the aircraft and had to be restrained by APOs and Garda Shane Dawson.”
In one incident, Insp Kennedy said Ms O’Riordan told Garda Dawson: “You can’t arrest me. I’m an icon. I’m the Queen of Limerick. You don’t know who you are dealing with. I pay my taxes so I pay your wages and I am going to sue you.” The inspector said Garda Dawson put Ms O’Riordan in the back of a patrol car to take her to Shannon Garda Station.
“She was banging and kicking, it looked like she was trying to break the windows but she didn’t do that. At that stage, Garda Dawson thought it better to bring along a Garda patrol van which has a restraining cell in it so the situation would be better managed.”
Insp Kennedy said that after escaping from handcuffs, Ms O’Riordan ran from the car. Garda Dawson gave chase and after apprehending her, Ms O’Riordan “turned around and head butted him and spat into his face”. “She then alleged that Garda Dawson had grabbed her tit and claimed that he sexually assaulted her by groping at her.”
Solicitor for Ms O’Riordan, Bill O’Donnell, accepted in court on behalf of Ms O’Riordan that there is no substance to the allegation made by his client against Garda Dawson.
In a plea of mitigation, Mr O’Donnell said “these were the actions of a very, very ill person”. He said: “Clearly from the evidence, she was somewhat out of control.” Mr O’Donnell said: “Ms O’Riordan was going through a very, very difficult time having recently separated from her husband of 20 years.”
One psychiatric report found that Ms O’Riordan “looked exhausted, had poor insight into her altered mental state and the incident on the plane took place while she was quite unwell and this was caused by bi-polar disorder”.
The report concluded that Ms O’Riordan’s prognosis is positive but she will require medication in the longer term.
Mr O’Donnell pleaded with Judge Durcan not to impose a criminal conviction as this could impact on Ms O’Riordan’s ability to travel freely and could have consequences on her travelling to see her children in Canada and for her career.
Judge Durcan adjourned the case for mention to the January 20 to fix a date for sentence.