A court has heard how a 22-year-old Cork man smeared his blood on a garda cell after committing public order offences in Clonakilty last November.
Hearing the case, Judge James McNulty said the case was ‘very typical of cases coming before the courts involving serious public order offending by young males who are drunk, or stoned, or high on something.’
Judge McNulty made the comment when dealing with the case of Darragh Behan of 12 An Caireal, Cul Ard, Carrigtwohill at Clonakilty District Court last week.
Mr Behan faced two public order charges as well as charges of damaging the emergency strip on the emergency window and armrest of an ambulance causing damage worth €268.31 and also spreading his blood on the walls of a cell and on a door at Clonakilty Garda Station.
The court was told that these offences occurred just 10 days after he received a community service order of 100 hours at Limerick District Court for public order offences.
Sgt Brian Harte said the defendant was attending a wedding at a local hotel on November 4th last and during the course of the celebrations the groom received a blow to the head from Mr Behan. He then became involved in a fracas and suffered an open wound to his head and eye.
He said that ambulance staff who arrived at the scene treated the defendant and dressed the wound. However, he became abusive and refused to go to hospital and took off his dressing.
Staff dressed his wound again and when gardaí arrived he agreed to go to hospital.
‘At this stage he became aggressive and started punching the ambulance walls and spitting and he pulled off the emergency strip. At that stage ambulance staff left him out and called the gardaí,’ said Sgt Harte.
‘Gardaí then encountered him on Connolly Street and arrested him and he told Gda O’Shea to ‘fuck off and mind his own business.’
Sgt Harte said Mr Behan was then taken to Clonakilty Garda Station where he cut his hand and ‘smeared his blood on the wall and door of the garda cell.’
The court was told that Mr Behan has 16 previous convictions with his most recent one for a public order offence in Limerick District Court, 10 days before the incidents in Clonakilty.
Defence solicitor Colette McCarthy said her client has a difficult relationship with alcohol and that since the incidents in November he is now working as a kitchen porter in a Cork city hotel.
She said he works mainly at weekends so doesn’t have a chance to socialise and that his employers are aware of the incidents and are willing to keep his job open.
Judge McNulty said such cases required clarity, consistency and severity, and that sadly this is a case where severity is warranted.
‘Young males socialising need to learn their A,B,Cs – accountability, boundaries and consequences. Whether you are three, four or 64, or in this case 22, there needs to be accountability for your actions, there needs to be boundaries and sadly, there are consequences,’ said Judge McNulty.
Judge McNulty added that it wasn’t Mr Behan’s first court appearance for criminal damage and that he ‘persists in offending.’
‘The court will deal with it severely, not least because of his abuse of public servants. Then he’s destructing public property when people come to his aid and when he’s arrested he smears his blood on the cell where other public servants have to clean it up,’ said Judge McNulty.
He added that it seemed to him that Mr Behan had become ‘overfond of alcohol’ and that it was disturbing that he had no recollection of being in the ambulance or causing damage.
Judge McNulty convicted and fined Mr Behan €500 on one public order charge and directed him to enter a probation bond for one year on the other public order charge.
He directed that Mr Behan also comply with the directions of the probation services and to address his alcohol abuse.
He sentenced him to six months for the criminal damage caused to the ambulance and another six months for what he did at Clonakilty Garda Station.
Judge McNulty said he would not suspend the sentences as Mr Behan has had his chances before and ‘the pattern is emerging of escalating offending.’
Recognisances for an appeal were fixed in the defendant’s own bond of €100. As part of his bail conditions he must abstain from alcohol and not use any controlled drug.