Tuesday 16 July 2019

Airport staff thought maimed war veteran was 'legless' drunk

Mouftah Nezar Ellihidy lost a leg in fight against Gaddafi. Photo: Collins
Mouftah Nezar Ellihidy lost a leg in fight against Gaddafi. Photo: Collins

Tom Tuite

A one-legged war veteran who was arrested at Dublin Airport after staff thought he was "legless drunk" has been spared a sentence and an assault conviction.

Mouftah Nezar Ellihidy, with an address at Annally Terrace, Ongar, Clonsilla, Dublin, was maimed during conflict in his homeland, Libya.

The 29-year-old business student pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to breach of the peace, being intoxicated in public, and obstruction and assault of an authorised officer at the airport's Terminal One on January 29.

He also admitted criminal damage inside a Garda car and to a mattress in a cell at Ballymun Garda station.

However, in April, a judge had given him a chance to avoid a criminal record and a sentence after noting the "unusual circumstances" of his arrest.

Spitting

He returned to court yesterday after paying €260 for the damage caused in the Garda station cell, and he had a receipt to show he had donated €400 to charity.

Judge Carol Anne Coolican noted he had complied with an order made earlier by another judge and she struck out the case.

His solicitor had said the airport staff assumed Mr Ellihidy "was legless drunk as opposed to being actually legless".

Dublin District Court had heard evidence that the student began spitting when gardaí were called and arrested him.

However, things escalated after his arrest and he wrecked a mattress in a Garda station cell.

Defence solicitor Colleen Gildernew said her client was very apologetic but there were unusual circumstances to the incident.

He had lost a leg during the war to topple Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi.

Later he lost some fingers as a result of an Isil bomb blast, she said.

On the day of his arrest, he had packed his crutches in his baggage.

He drank one glass of wine that reacted badly with his medication, the solicitor said, and the airport staff thought he was intoxicated and offered him a wheelchair, which he declined. The situation escalated and gardaí were called.

He now had a scholarship from the Libyan government to study in Ireland.

His family were doctors and lived in Turkey.

Mr Ellihidy, who had no prior convictions, was sorry for his actions, the court heard.

Judge John Brennan, who had heard the evidence during the hearing in April, described Mr Ellihidy's behaviour as "purely appalling".

He added, however, that they were most unusual circumstances in which the accused was a veteran who had suffered badly through his patriotism.

He also remarked that it seemed unusual that one glass of wine led to this behaviour and clearly the accused cannot mix alcohol because it caused him to overreact.

Irish Independent

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