An allegation that two coats went missing from a bar led to a threat being made to a bar manager and a violent altercation with security staff. The coats were found in the bar later the same night.
Eoin Roche, aged 35, of 2 Cluain Ard, Dunthane Rd, Fermoy, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to four charges relating to the incident that took place at Hamlet’s Bar, Kinsale, on December 21, including for assault.
The court heard the court had dealt with Roche’s partner in relation to the same incident at a sitting last week, at which she was fined.
Insp Brian Callaghan told the judge that, on the night in question, Roche told a barman that both his coat and his partner’s coat had been taken and that he then demanded to talk to the bar manager.
The court heard that at this point, Roche, a plasterer, became very aggressive. Aspects of the bar manager’s statement to gardaí were read out in court, including how the manager told Roche he would check CCTV for the coats, to which Roche said he would agree if he got a free drink.
The manager also told gardaí:
He said if I wasn’t going to find his jacket he was going to start slapping me.
Security staff were called and at that point, in the words of defence solicitor Tony Greenway, matters “got out of hand”.
The court hearing into Roche’s partner’s case heard that, at one point, she threw a full pint glass at a member of staff. Insp Callaghan said one security staff member was headbutted by Roche and when he was outside and appeared to have calmed down, security staff released him, only for Roche to then resume throwing punches. Aspects of the incident were recorded on a bodycam worn by a member of security staff.
Judge James McNulty described Roche’s behaviour and comments regarding the free drink and threats of violence as “thuggish conduct”.
The judge was told Roche has 40 previous convictions, including two for assault. The judge also heard he received a four-year sentence for sexual assault at Fermoy Circuit Court in 2016, the last 18 months of which was suspended for a period of three years post-release. He left prison on January 8, 2018, meaning these offences occurred during that period.
Mr Greenway said his client was “no shrinking violet” and had a history of alcohol and drug abuse, but in the past year he had not been in trouble, was trying to turn his life around, and was working full-time while he and his partner expect their first child.
He said: “This minor incident now has major consequences for him.”
Judge McNulty sentenced Roche to five months in prison, all suspended, on each assault charge and fined him €1,000 for public order offences of using threatening and insulting words or behaviour, which was paid in court. He also made an order referring Roche — released on bail —back to the circuit court for it to decide whether to make Roche serve the balance of the previous four-year sentence.
The judge said he would suspend the sentences in relation to the Kinsale incident for two years on his own bond of €1,000 and a surety of €1,000 because of the imminent arrival of the couple’s first child.