Published 27/11/2012 | 10:30
A 48-YEAR-OLD man ripped up the mattress in a garda station cell because he claimed he had been 'denied his basic human right' of toilet paper.
The man, who was arrested for committing public order offences in Balbriggan, caused €276.45 damage to the mattress in the cell in Raheny Garda station on May 24, Balbriggan District Court heard. James Heraghty, Darceystown, Balbriggan was sentenced to a total of six months in prison for the damage he caused in the garda station and for using threatening and abusive language and behaviour at Bridge Street, Balbriggan. Heraghty, who has 62 previous convictions, was fined €200 for being drunk in public at Bridge Street while a further charge of violent behaviour in Raheny Garda station was taken into consideration without any additional penalty being imposed. A separate charge of stealing a 24 foot single mast yacht at The Harbour, Balbriggan on August 27 was struck out on application by the State. Garda Peter Tuffy told the court that the defendant, who was not wearing a top, was walking on Bridge Street in a drunken state. He was shouting and being abusive and aggressive to passers-by and the gardai and he then went out onto the road in front of traffic. Garda Tuffy said that Heraghty was asked to put his top on and to leave the area but as there was 'no talking to him', he was arrested. Sergeant Grimes, who was the member-in-charge at Raheny Garda station said that during Heraghty's time in custody, he was very aggressive and made threats to assault members of staff. He spat at a garda and then ripped up the lining of his mattress in his cell and tore up the inside foam into pieces. 'He was a general nuisance during his time in custody,' said Sgt Grimes, adding that the call out charge for cleaning the cell and replacing the mattress was €276.45. Mary Arnold, solicitor for Heraghty said that her client had asked on several occasions for toilet paper but Sgt Grimes said that there was no record of that request. Ms Arnold told the court that she had compensation in court for the damage caused in the garda station cell. She accepted that her client, who is 'well known to the gardai', had been shouting and talking across the street to two friends who were standing outside a pub. Heraghty, said Ms Arnold, had asked for toilet paper on numerous occasions and when it was not given to him, he tore up the mattress to use the material to clean himself after using the toilet. 'As a basic human right he should have been given toilet paper,' said Ms Arnold. Another basic human right, she said, is for a person to be called their right name and despite previously proving her client's surname is 'Heraghty', he continues to be called 'Hegarty' on the charge sheets against him. Having been made homeless a number of years ago, her client is now living in a caravan but is one of the 'downtrodden in society' and is estranged from his family. Ms Arnold asked the court to take her client's circumstances into consideration and not to impose a custodial sentence. Inspector Declan Yates stated that he would not like it to be said in open court that the Gardai were depriving people of their basic human rights. The member-in-charge at Raheny Garda station had given evidence that there was no record of the defendant requesting toilet paper. ' The gardai would not deprive anyone of toilet paper, said Inspector Yates. Judge Dermot Dempsey said that he was not ' for one moment' accepting that the defendant was denied any of his human rights. There was no note in the custody records of any such request for toilet paper and it was the defendant's own ' animalistic' behaviour that resulted in him tearing up the mattress.