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Builder tried to ‘coerce’ woman into his car late at night while claiming to be a garda, court hears

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A BUILDER tried to “coerce” a woman into his car late at night while claiming to be a garda, then choked her boyfriend who came to her aid, it is alleged.

Declan McGowan (33) is accused of carrying out the unprovoked attack after an "unwarranted and unwanted" approach to the victim's girlfriend, who he said was a "beautiful woman".

According to investing gardaí, he also told the couple he had a pistol in his car and would get the gun to "make them believe".

Judge Michael Walsh refused to grant Mr McGowan bail and remanded him in custody at Dublin District Court.

The accused, with an address at Branswood, Athy, Co Kildare, is charged with assault causing harm to the man on September 18.

The incident is alleged to have happened on Kimmage Road Lower.

Garda Aaron Webb said Mr McGowan replied to the charge when cautioned: “I did not assault him, I prevented him from causing further harm to his partner. When he calmed down, I simply spoke to him.”

Objecting to bail, Gda Webb said the woman (25) had just left her residence and was out walking at 2.45am when the accused allegedly pulled his vehicle alongside her.

In an “unwarranted, unwanted encounter”, the garda alleged, Mr McGowan accosted the woman for a number of minutes, putting her in fear.

He identified himself as a member of the gardaí on a number of occasions, attempted to coerce her into the vehicle and stated that she was a beautiful woman, the garda said.

She was on the phone to her boyfriend who came outside, saw the interaction and went to her aid.

In an “unprovoked attack”, the accused grabbed the man by the throat and choked him for five seconds while still claiming to be a garda, Gda Webb alleged.

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The man freed himself and called the gardaí. It was further alleged Mr McGowan told them he was armed with a pistol in his car and said “I will get my gun and make you believe”.

The alleged victim suffered bruising with clear finger marks on his neck.

The accused was arrested on suspicion of impersonating a garda and detained and interviewed, before being charged with assault.

Mr McGowan denied impersonating a garda and had a “radically different” version of events, his solicitor Peter Connolly said.

He would say he saw the woman running down the road and was concerned because she appeared distressed. When he engaged her in conversation, she told him she was running from her husband. McGowan would say he asked her if she wanted to call the gardaí and a man ran up to her and slapped her in the face.

Mr McGowan would say he intervened and grabbed the man to restrain him.

The accused was "hotly contesting" the allegations and it could take years to finalise the case, Mr Connolly said.

Mr McGowan was a building contractor in the middle of a critical job, Mr Connolly said. He was presumed innocent, willing to abide by bail conditions and his partner was in court to stand by him and offer bail money.

Judge Walsh refused bail and remanded the accused in custody to Cloverhill District Court on Thursday.


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