A NORTH Fingal father of three has been found not guilty of assaulting his twoand-a-half year old son but guilty of obstructing gardaí.
The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, had pleaded not guilty to both charges at Swords District Court last week. Garda Helen Gernon gave evidence that on May 9 2011 she received an anonymous phone call reporting noise coming from a house in a north Fingal estate at around 5.30 p.m. Sergeant Stephen Meehan, Garda Gernon and Garda Donnacha Ryan attended at the residence and a woman answered the door. She invited the gardaí into her home and explained she came home from work and an argument ensued with her partner who accused her of being unfaithful to him. He demanded she give him her password to her Vodafone webmail account, which she refused to do. Garda Gernon told the court that the woman requested her partner be removed from the house. Gda. Gernon said the man was in the kitchen and was very irate and aggressive. 'He said he wasn't going to leave without his son but eventually he said he would leave and went upstairs to get some of his stuff,' said Gda Gernon. The gardaí went into the living room where the woman was with her three young children. The defendant told gardaí he wanted to get his mobile phone from the living room and when he entered the room he started to roar and shout that he wasn't going to leave without his son. 'He lunged at the child who was sitting on the couch and he grabbed the child's arm. The child screamed out in pain. He had a serious grasp on the child's arm,' Gda. Gernon said in evidence. She said Sergeant Meehan and Gda. Ryan intervened and placed the defendant on the floor trying to handcuff him. 'He didn't comply with garda directions and he was told OC spray would be used on him,' said Gda. Gernon. She said the defendant started to wrestle with gardaí to try and break free. 'He continued to resist arrest and he was sprayed by Sgt. Meehan and then handcuffed,' she added. She said she examined the child's arm which was very red and patchy where the defendant had grabbed it. She said the defendant was arrested for obstructing gardaí. In an interview with gardaí the defendant said he did not understand why gardaí were called and agreed he had an argument with his partner. He said he was 'pulled to the floor' and 'didn't know if I was still holding my son or not. He was reaching for me and I was trying to pick my son up. I was pulled by gardaí and I did not know I was still holding him,' he said. In evidence the defendant's partner said she told gardaí to remove him from the house until he calmed down. 'Our son put his hands up to him and he went to him to carry him and hug him but he was dragged away by gardaí,' she told the court. She said she was not pressurised by the defendant to give evidence and she said she was ' not in fear of him and neither were the children.' She disagreed with State solicitor Ann Collins that the defendant assaulted their son. 'No, he looks after the children, he never slapped them,' she said. The defendant gave evidence saying when gardaí arrived he went upstairs to get a few things and he asked could he speak to his children before he left the house. He claimed his two-and-a-half year old son stretched out his arms and he bent down to carry him. ' The gardaí then pulled me. I don't even know if I was holding my son. I went blank so I didn't even know if I was holding him.' 'It's not true that I lunged at my son and grabbed him,' he added. Solicitor for the defendant, Sean Brown, said the mother of the child did not ask him to leave, she was advised by gardaí it was the best thing to do. 'He exceeded to that. He is the day-today carer of the children,' said Mr. Brown. Judge Dermot Dempsey said he did not believe there was any recklessness on behalf of the accused. 'I don't think there is any clear attempt of assault but I am convicting him of obstruction,' said Judge Dempsey. He also said he did not accept the mother's evidence claiming it was 'unreliable.' Judge Dempsey ordered that the defendant take steps to deal with anger management otherwise he will receive a custodial sentence. He ordered a Probation Report be prepared for the possibility of 150 hours community service in lieu of a four month prison sentence. He adjourned the case until November 8 at Balbriggan District Court.