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Man turned his life around after assault on gardaí


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Man turned his life around after assault on gardaí

A man who punched a male garda to the head and body and assaulted another with her own pepper spray, was given a nine-month suspended sentence at Galway District Court.

Judge Mary Fahy issued a stern warning to the defendant, whom she was told had turned his life around in the nine years since the incident, warning him that he would serve the time if he caused trouble in the future.

Patrick Clarke (33) of 9 St Brigid’s Place, Prospect Hill, had absconded to the UK in the aftermath of the assaults which occurred in Eyre Square on October 7, 2013.

Sgt Christy Browne told the court that the defendant had approached a licenced premises at 3.15am that morning trying to get more drink, but was turned away by a doorman.

“He was very drunk, very persistent and aggressive,” he said of Clarke.

“He came up very close to the man working on security and hit him to the face, he fell to the ground with the punch.”

Gardaí were called to the scene and put the assault allegation to the father of two, who then proceeded to act aggressively towards them.

“He violently resisted arrest and pepper spray had to be used, but he turned the pepper spray on Garda Stephanie Moylan. Garda Fergal O’Grady was punched to the head and body and dragged along the ground.”

The latter managed to break free of Clarke thanks to the intervention of other gardaí and members of the public. The whole incident occurred in the space of about 20 minutes, Sgt Browne added.

Before Clarke could be brought to justice, however, he had left the country and went to the UK where he lived and worked in the years since the incident.

“That was the best thing he could have done,” his solicitor, Sean Acton, said, adding that his client was 24 years old at the time and was a different human being to the one standing beside him in court.

“There was an accumulation of factors which led to him becoming homeless and dependent on alcohol and drugs. He is now nine years sober, he is attending AA meetings in Galway, and has received excellent references from his former employer in England. He has very strong support from his wife and has not put a foot wrong since.”

Judge Fahy noted from the documents handed into court that Clarke’s former employer had helped him get similar work here.

“That speaks for itself, but the only difficulty is that if he were to engage with drugs and alcohol again his level of offending could commence all over again,” she said.

“He was on a spiral and would have been incarcerated if that had continued.”

A very positive probation report stated that Clarke was very remorseful and that he accepted the three assaults were unprovoked; Sgt Browne added that he had written letters of apology to the injured parties.

Mr Acton offered €7,000 in compensation, which was divided according to the severity of the injuries – €3,000 each to Garda O’Grady and the doorman, and €1,000 to Garda Stephanie Moylan.

“An assault on anyone is very serious, but on a garda is even more serious as they are carrying out their duties and protecting the public,” Judge Fahy said.

She proceeded to imposing a total of nine months’ imprisonment on Clarke for the assaults, which was suspended for two years on the condition that he is of good behaviour during that period. He received a two-month suspended sentence, to run concurrently, for resisting Garda O’Grady acting in the execution of his duty. Other matters under the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act were taken into account on the tendering of his guilty plea.

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