A man has been jailed for punching a garda sergeant in the head when he was being served with a barring order secured against him by his mother. Bandon District Court heard that William O’Connor “lashed out” when he was being served with the order.
Judge James McNulty heard from Sgt James O’Donoghue that, on September 13, he and other gardaí went to O’Connor’s then-address at 2 St John’s Terrace, World’s End, Kinsale, to serve him papers, as requested by the court earlier that day.
No one was at home but gardaí saw Mr O’Connor walking towards them on Pier Rd. Sgt O’Donoghue got out of the car and approached Mr O’Connor, who slapped the papers out of his hands.
“He was calling me a paedophile, saying ‘you have no authority’,” Sgt O’Donoghue told the judge. The sergeant tried to calm him down but then O’Connor “took a swing” and punched Sgt O’Donoghue on the left side of the head. This was corroborated by another garda present, Garda Neil Ryan, who told the court that O’Connor “lashed out”.
The court heard that O’Connor was warned that gardaí would use incapacitant spray unless he calmed down. When he tried to punch Sgt O’Donoghue again, the sergeant used his spray and gardaí got O’Connor down on the ground and handcuffed him.
O’Connor was so aggressive on arrival at Bandon Garda Station that he was placed straight in the cell. His replies after caution were:
You are a paedophile, you prick, you have no authority, go fuck yourself.
Mr O’Connor’s solicitor, Eddie Burke, said his client was “adamant” that Sgt O’Donoghue immediately began reading O’Connor his rights as he approached him. The sergeant denied this took place. Judge McNulty viewed CCTV footage which he said corroborated the gardaí’s version of events.
The court heard O’Connor had 48 previous convictions, including two previous convictions for assaulting gardaí, and that he had received a 10-year jail sentence for manslaughter in 2004. Judge McNulty sentenced O’Connor, who has been living in Cork city, to six months imprisonment for assault and 12 months for obstructing gardaí, with a public order charge taken into consideration.
The judge directed that O’Connor receive psychiatric care including transfer to the Central Mental Hospital if the prison psychiatrist so recommended. Recognisance for any appeal was set at O’Connor’s own bond of €100 and an independent surety of €1,500, one-third in cash, and to be approved by the court.