A member of the Naval Service appeared in Ballina District Court last week for assaulting a member of An Garda Síochana, being intoxicated in a public place and engaging in threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour.
The court heard that while policing a street concert as part of the Ballina Street Festival on July 13 last, Garda John Barrett observed Karl O’Hora of The Quay View House, Ballina, bumping into people while carrying two glass beer bottles, which the court heard were prohibited from the area. Mr O’Hora, who pleaded guilty to the charges, was on leave from a tour of duty with the Irish navy at the time.
When Garda Barrett approached Mr O’Hora, he became aggressive towards the gardaí and said “Do you know who I am?” adding, “Ye guards are useless.”
He then left the area, but Mr O’Hora and a number of friends returned a time later, gave a ‘one-fingered gesture’ to Garda Barrett and proceeded to pull at steel barriers.
Approaching O’Hora for a second time, the court heard that he told Garda Barrett “I’m one of ye … I’m in the Irish f***ing navy, f**k ye guards, I earn more than ye.” O’Hora then produced his Naval Service ID.
Calling gardaí assistance, Garda Barrett handcuffed Mr O’Hora, who then proceeded to drop to the ground suddenly causing Garda Barrett, who was standing behind O’Hora, to fall over him on the ground. O’Hora then kicked Garda Barrett in the head.
The court heard that a colleague of Barrett prevented him from being kicked a second time.
Superintendent Pat McHugh informed the court that Garda Barrett sustained bruising and swelling to his knee, suffered headaches and was out for nearly ten weeks as a result.
Solicitor for the defendant, Mr Peter Loftus, told the court that his client ‘accepts his conduct was totally unacceptable’, adding that he had not been in trouble before the incident nor since.
Mr Loftus added that his client was ‘ashamed of himself’ and had written a letter to Garda Barrett apologising.
Mr Loftus said his client has been in the Naval Service since he was 18 and that he hopes to renew his contract in the coming months. “The difficulty is the consequences of the conviction, as he may lose his position,” said Mr Loftus.
Addressing Judge Devins, the 22 year old said that when the assault occurred, he was ‘out for the first time in months and went crazy on the drink’. Judge Devins then asked Mr O’Hora “How would you feel if you were in uniform and you were assaulted?”. Mr O’Hora replied, “I wouldn’t like it at all.”
The case was adjourned to January 22 next.