A MAN who attacked a garda with a broken bottle in a ‘crazed’ attack had discharged himself from a mental health unit a week prior to the attack. During the attack, the man had to be tasered before he could be arrested.
Last week’s sitting of Castlebar Circuit Court heard that Henry Byrne (27) of Main Street, Cong, has been using drugs since he was eleven years old and has 93 previous convictions, the majority of which were for public order offences.
His sister, Ruth Byrne, told Judge Tony Hunt that Mr Byrne is a genuinely nice guy who is well liked in the community but who needed help.
Mr Byrne was arrested on August 8, 2010, following the attack on gardaí, which happened after they tried to arrest him in Claremorris for kicking wing mirrors off parked cars. He stripped off his upper clothing and lashed out at Garda Olga Treacy and threw punches at Garda Donal Raftery.
Mr Byrne was pepper-sprayed during the incident, but it had no effect on him. At one stage he ran from the gardaí, turning around to taunt ‘come and arrest me’.
Garda Treacy told Castlebar Circuit Court that Garda Raftery noticed he had one hand behind his back which contained a broken glass bottle. He threatened the gardaí with the bottle, but was eventually arrested after being tasered by the regional support unit. Garda Treacy agreed that he was very intoxicated and may have been under the influence of more than just alcohol.
Ms Ann-Marie Courell, BL for Mr Byrne, explained that on August 1, 2010, her client had been admitted to a mental-health unit after he had threatened to kill himself. Despite being considered a danger to himself and others he was allowed to discharge himself just a week prior to the incident in Claremorris.
The court heard that Mr Byrne was given his first taste of illegal drugs by a neighbour when he was just eleven and has been an addict since he was a teenager. He was also diagnosed as dyslexic and went to Garbally College in Ballinasloe, but his drug problem worsened.
Ms Byrne explained that when he was receiving treatment in the St Francis Farm treatment centre in Carlow he was drug free for a number of months before relapsing in the summer of 2010. She said that during that time he made things for their home and kept himself busy. She added that he was at an age where he knew he needed help to sort his life out.
Ms Courell said that St Francis Farm had agreed to readmit Mr Byrne, which offered the prospect of rehabilitation. She also said he has been in custody for up to nine months.
Judge Hunt described Mr Byrne as a nuisance and said his behaviour in Claremorris merited a two-year prison sentence. However, he accepted that locking him up would only postpone the problem until he was released.
He told Ms Courell that he would adjourn sentencing until October 26 to allow a report from St Francis Farm to be presented and also ordered a probation report.