Thursday 27 October 2016

Gardaí used pepper spray on woman who was 'out of control'


Published 08/01/2013 | 11:20

A WOMAN who was described as ' being out of control' on a cocktail of legitimate medication and alcohol and had to be restrained by gardai using pepper spray has been given a six month suspended sentence at Balbriggan District Court.

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Debbie Whelan of Moylaragh Crescent in Balbriggan pleaded guilty last week to using threatening and abusive behaviour at Bridge Street in Balbriggan on June 9, 2012. She further pleaded guilty to assault and criminal damage, violent behaviour, threatening and abusive behaviour and refusing to give a specimen at Swords Garda Station on June 10, 2012. The court heard that gardai had to use pepper spray on Whelan before handcuffing her at Bridge Street when the car she was driving was stopped after it was seen driving erratically. Garda Peter Tuffy said the blue Fiat people carrier which Whelan was driving from the direction of Drogheda came to a stop at Hampton Street. Gardai approached the vehicle and Gda Tuffy said he believed she had consumed alcohol. 'She had to be pepper sprayed as she was very violent towards us,' said Gda Tuffy. 'She was acting in the same violent manner at the garda station and when the doctor arrived, she refused to provide a sample of blood or urine,' he added. He said Whelan then spat in the face of Garda Fiona Gleeson and was abusive towards the Sergeant. Her solicitor Mr Brendan Foley asked Gda Tuffy if he would be surprised if he was to learn that the mother-of-one was on something other than alcohol. 'I wouldn't be surprised,' replied Gda Tuffy. Mr Foley said 24-year-old Whelan, who has three previous convictions, is now in a stable relationship and is pregnant. He said her parents split up when she was five years old and she and her mother and siblings moved from the UK to Ireland. ' Her father has been in prison since then and she was the only one who maintained contact with him. This is not an excuse for her behaviour but it's background,' he said. Mr Foley also told the court that Whelan had been abused as a child by a person who has now been convicted and is serving a sentence for the offence. ' She turned to alcohol due to the absence of her father and the abuse she received and was on prescription medication,' said Mr Foley. He said she had taken a cocktail of medication including Prozac, dalmane and other prescription drugs along with alcohol on the night in question. 'I am asking the court not to consider this an excuse but as a reason. She has accepted entirely responsibility for what she did. She was out of control on a cocktail of drugs and alcohol. 'She hasn't come to adverse garda attention since,' he added. 'If she was still abusing alcohol it would have manifested itself in the environment she lives in,' he said, asking the court to give her one last chance. 'I am asking the court to consider the factors and the efforts she has made directly subsequent to this incident by stopping drinking,' said Mr Foley. Judge Dermot Desmond noted that Whelan had only apologised to gardai for her behaviour on the morning of the hearing. ' This doesn't show me there is any remorse there,' said Judge Dempsey. He handed down a four month sentence suspended for two years for refusing to give a specimen and ordered that she does not consume any alcohol for two years. He also gave her a two month suspended sentence for assaulting gardai, which he suspended for two years, to run consecutively to the suspended four month sentence. He ordered that she pay €200 towards compensation for the damage caused to the window of the patrol car. He disqualified her from driving for six years and fined her a further €100 for criminal damage.

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