Sunday 11 December 2016

Former Samoan International rugby player spared conviction for trying tried to drag garda out of car

By Andrew Phelan

Published 20/05/2015 | 17:20

Criminal Courts of Justice (CCJ) Dublin
Criminal Courts of Justice (CCJ) Dublin

A FORMER Samoan International rugby player tried to drag a garda out of a patrol car and attacked him in a drink-fuelled late-night assault in Dublin, a court heard.

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Misioka Timoteo (26) was one of three rugby players from Samoa who were involved in the incident in which the plain clothes garda was attacked on a city centre street.

Dublin District Court heard Paul Tolofua (24) also assaulted the garda while their friend Kinsah Matangi (31) played a lesser role by intervening and stopping another officer from going to his colleague’s assistance.

All three accused were left without criminal convictions over the incident after they paid charity donations.

Timoteo, of The Maudlims, Naas, Co Kildare and Tolofua from River Lane Grove, Shankill, Co Dublin both pleaded guilty to assaulting Garda Adrian Coffey. Matangi (31) of St Gabriel’s, Cabinteely, admitted obstructing Garda Lee Gavin.

Judge Michael Walsh dismissed all charges under the Probation Act after Timoteo and Tolofua paid €750 to charity, and Matangi paid €500.

Garda Sergeant Gail Smith said the incident happened at Camden Street on February 15 last.

The gardai were in an unmarked car talking to two men at 2.35am. Separately, the three co-accused and two women approached and began banging on the patrol car.

When told to stop, Timoteo and Tolofua attempted to drag Garda Coffey from the driver’s seat while the engine was still running.

A struggle ensued and he called for assistance. Garda Gavin got out but Matangi stood in his way and tried to grab his baton from his hand.

As the other two “main aggressors” attacked, Garda Coffey had to pepper-spray them to subdue them. Garda Gavin assisted and the three men were arrested.

None of the accused had any previous convictions.

Timoteo had been to a friend’s house for drinks before deciding to go out for more, his barrister Edel Gilligan said. He had “far too much alcohol” and very little recollection of what happened.

Timoteo was a former Samoan international rugby player, was studying English and had upcoming trials for Leicester Tigers. His future rugby career could be “greatly inhibited” by a conviction, Ms Gilligan said. He was ashamed and embarrassed and the incident was out of character.

Solicitor Kevin Tunney said one of the men had fallen onto the car, the garda reacted and Tolofua went to defuse what he thought was a row. He had not known it was a garda car. Tolofua had studied accountancy in New Zealand played semi-professional rugby there. He came to Ireland to play rugby and was in a club that had a lot of members of the gardai.

Matangi, a commis chef, had been out with his wife who “wasn’t involved in any way” with this, Mr Tunney said. He had played rugby with members of the gardai and had “no difficulty” with them.

Matangi thought his friends were being attacked and intervened.

“The circumstances of the incident itself seem to have been fuelled by what one would associate with late night revelry,” Judge Walsh said.

He said any attack on the gardai had to be treated seriously but criminal convictions would have a disproportionate effect on the accused.

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