CRITICISM Inspector Dermot Butler described the actions of several individuals in filming a garda making an arrest as ‘disgusting’.
Garda checking on drunk man’s welfare was told to ‘keep moving’
A garda inspector has branded the recording of a garda attempting to make an arrest ‘disgusting’.
Inspector Dermot Butler made the comments last Thursday at Achill District Court in reference to an incident that occurred in Kiltimagh last September.
Garda Conor Drury arrested Kieran McHugh (20) of Ballyrourke, Kiltimagh in the early hours of Sunday, September 24, after Garda Drury went to check on a drunk man lying on a lane way in the town.
On Thursday last, Garda Drury told Achill District Court that when he went to check on the man on the ground, Kieran McHugh approached him. Garda Drury asked him whether he knew the man on the ground, to which McHugh replied: “It’s none of your business, keep moving.”
Garda Drury said that he repeated the question and explained he was checking on the wellbeing of the man on the ground, and that McHugh repeated himself.
Garda Drury said McHugh smelled strongly of alcohol. He asked him for his name and address. McHugh refused to give his details several times. A large crowd had gathered, and the situation was becoming ‘volatile’, according to Garda Drury.
He told the court that McHugh told those gathered to start recording, and Garda Drury decided to arrest McHugh and bring him to Claremorris Garda Station. He said they only found out his identity when an ID card was found on his person by the member in charge in Claremorris.
Garda Drury then left the station and returned to the scene in Kiltimagh, but the man who had been lying on the ground had gone.
The court heard McHugh had no previous convictions. Defending solicitor Brendan Donnelly said his client is a student at GMIT in Galway, and he asked Judge Mary Devins not to impose a conviction, as his client is hoping to obtain a J1 Visa for the US this summer.
Mr Donnelly said that the individual who was on the ground was drunk, and that his girlfriend had been called to pick him up. His friends, including Kieran McHugh, were waiting for her to come when Garda Drury arrived.
Judge Devins said she needed to hear from McHugh. She made him apologise to Garda Drury as he approached the witness box.
Mr McHugh said “I would like to apologise to everyone on the night and to Conor.”
Judge Devins asked him whether he had known Garda Drury before the incident. Mr McHugh said he had not.
“Why are you calling him by his Christian name if you don’t know him?” she asked.
Mr McHugh replied, ‘I did not mean any offence’, but Judge Devins said it showed a lack of respect.
She described the recording of Garda Drury as bullying, and asked why McHugh had told his friends to do this.
“Just in case things got out of order,” he replied.
Judge Devins said this was an ‘arrogant attitude’, and pointed out that Kieran McHugh and his friends were not guardians of the peace on the night, but that Garda Drury was.
Inspector Dermot Butler said the use of the mobile phones in this instance was ‘disgusting’.
“He [McHugh] was drunk and was showing off to his friends. Garda Drury was only concerned with the man on the ground. To encourage his friends to take out their mobile phones, I find disgusting,” he said.
In McHugh’s favour, Judge Devins cited his lack of previous convictions and his studies.
The charge of a breach of Section 24 of the Public Order Act (refusing to give a garda your name) was dismissed under the Probation Act on the proviso that McHugh donate €250 to the Special Olympics. A charge of being drunk in a public place was taken into consideration.