A Ballina man who went on a drunken binge earlier this month and racially abused a fast-food restaurant manager was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment, despite an impassioned plea not to jail him.
Derek Humber of 31 Tyrawley Terrace, Ballina, was sentenced at last week’s sitting of Ballina District Court after he was charged with a number of public-order offences between June 26 and July 3. The court heard that on July 2 he entered the Supermac’s restaurant in Ballina and called the manager a ‘Paki bastard’ while throwing trays around the restaurant, causing €565 worth of damage.
On another occasion he abused ambulance personnel who were treating him for facial injuries. He has been arrested on a number of occasions for verbally abusing people and being in an intoxicated state around Ballina.
Judge Patrick Durcan was told that Mr Humber had a serious alcohol problem, which sends him ‘haywire’, and that he had relapsed when the latest incidents took place. Inspector Joe Doherty explained that Mr Humber has been in custody since July 3 in order to ensure he was off the streets during the Ballina Festival.
Mr Humber (28) has 50 previous convictions for breach of the peace and 18 convictions for intoxication in a public place. In evidence, Mr Humber apologised for what he did and explained that he was ‘doing very well’ in controlling his addiction during the year, but that he had relapsed.
In a letter read to the court by his solicitor, Denis Molloy, Mr Humber said he realised that he was his own worst enemy, and that his worst fear was that he would ‘go back to the way I used to be’. He said he wanted to do his best from now on and restore some self-respect and dignity. He acknowledged that all his problems in life were alcohol-related, and he renounced alcohol and said he would not appear before the court again.
Mr Molloy said his client’s behaviour was not acceptable, but said he attended alcohol addiction rehab and goes to AA meetings. He said he was undergoing a FÁS course and asked that his sentence be suspended on stern terms.
Judge Durcan said he had to give Mr Humber credit for a number of things, including his ‘touching letter’, but he added it was easy to be self-serving. The judge described the racist attack on the manager in Supermac’s as reprehensible, and also condemned Mr Humber’s verbal abuse of the ambulance personnel who had come to assist him.
He said Ballina was a beautiful town with wonderful natural resources which formed the base of the town’s tourism activity and told Mr Humber that visitors were entitled to walk around the town at night without coming across ‘bowsies’ like him.
He said the type of behaviour exhibited by Mr Humber could not be tolerated, and he sentenced him to four two-month prison sentences, which were all to run consecutively, and he fined him €300.