A FORMER heroin addict from Cork city who assaulted a garda outside Clonakilty courthouse almost two years ago has been given a chance by Judge Colm Roberts to ‘turn his life around.’
Eugene O’Rourke (24) of 12 St Francis Gardens, Blackpool, Cork appeared at Clonakilty District Court recently, where he faced four charges including assault, resisting arrest and two public order counts from both inside and outside Clonakilty District Courthouse.
Sgt Paul Kelly told the court that on August 29th 2019 the defendant appeared in custody at Clonakilty District Court in relation to a criminal damage matter.
‘He became very aggressive in court and kicked over the bench in front of him and he was escorted out of the court by two gardaí,’ said Sgt Kelly.
‘However, while outside he continued to be aggressive and abusive and started kicking out at parked cars and, as well as being abusive to the gardaí, he struck Gda Conor O’Leary.’
The court heard that Garda O’Leary suffered an injury to his right knee after he was pulled to the ground by the defendant and he required medical attention and is still off work.
Sgt Kelly said Gda O’Leary declined to attend court or write a victim impact statement.
The court heard the defendant has 24 previous convictions, including theft, criminal damage and violent disorder.
Defence solicitor Conrad Murphy said his client has a significant history of addiction of heroin, methadone and benzos.
Mr Murphy said he was in court on the day in question and his client ‘was out of it’ and was screaming for methadone.
‘He has been in prison since and came out in March last year, is sober 12 months and is now on the third stage at Coolmine drug treatment centre,’ said Mr Murphy.
‘He has also been accepted into Trinity College on an access programme and is on the HAP scheme in Dublin.’
He had done very well outside and it would be detrimental if he was sent back to prison as he could go back into addiction,’ claimed the solicitor.
‘He also wishes to apologise to the gardaí and he’s embarrassed about his actions,’ he told the judge.
Mr O’Rourke told Judge Roberts that he is taking responsibility for his actions and has a better awareness about himself these days and he doesn’t want to go back into addiction.
His mother, Jennifer O’Rourke, said she now sees a difference in him since he got clean and that she is ashamed of what he did in court that day.
Judge Roberts said this was a difficult case as the defendant’s behaviour was ‘totally inexcusable and frightening to everyone’ but that he has made serious changes which aren’t complete, and the next year or two would tell all.
‘His comments about owning the situation resonate with me,’ said Judge Roberts.
Judge Roberts sentenced him to nine months on the assault charge but suspended it for two years and directed he be placed under the supervision of the probation services during that period.
‘In every other situation he should be going to prison, so we will see do his actions speak louder than his words,’ the judge said.
Judge Roberts convicted him on the other charges and remanded him on bail on his own bond of €250 to appear again in court on October 5th for penalty.
Judge Roberts also suggested that the defendant write a letter of apology to the injured garda and to also look into paying compensation.
‘I want to give you a chance to turn your life around,’ Judge Roberts concluded.