Tuesday 16 January 2018

Court gives soldier chance to save career after drink-fuelled fight

Declan Brennan and Jessica Magee

A soldier involved in a violent drink-fuelled fight has been discharged from his sentence after he paid €3,000 in compensation to two victims.

Andrew Gilmore (26) of Gormanstown Army Barracks, Co Meath had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to violent disorder at Central Bank Plaza, Dublin on February 9, 2012.

He was also charged with assault causing harm but these charges were not pursued by the State after the other pleas were entered.

Gilmore had faced a two-and-a-half year “deferred sentence”, which was conditional on him paying over €3,000 to the two victims within six months.

Gilmore brought the required sum of money to court and Judge Martin Nolan directed that it be passed on to the victims.

Judge Nolan ruled that as Gilmore had complied with the conditions, he was discharged and his sentence was not imposed.

The judge said the objective of handing down a deferred sentence had been to give the accused a chance to save his career.

A deferred sentence is a rarely-used provision which means that technically Gilmore has avoided a custodial or suspended term.

If he had received a custodial sentence, a suspended sentence or a fine of over €800, he would have been automatically discharged from the army.

The court heard last November that he will face an army disciplinary tribunal with the option to let him continue as a soldier.

Fergal Foley BL, prosecuting, told the court that the DPP has already begun to appeal the sentence as it was felt it had been too lenient.

Gilmore's co-accused Michael Kearney (30) was fined €500 last November after Judge Nolan noted he had played a less violent role in the offence.

Kearney, of Carlton Crescent, Strabane, Tyrone, had pleaded guilty to the same charges as Gilmore.

Garda Frank Johnson said the two men had been celebrating in Madonna's Nightclub and left the venue after 3am. A row broke out between them and another two men and a woman.

Gilmore punched the first victim Patrick Byrne who was knocked unconscious. Gilmore also assaulted the man's friends, Thomas Roantree and the woman.

Gda Johnson said another man, who disappeared after gardaí arrived, received blows to the head and body and that Mr Roantree was kicked while he was on the ground.

He said CCTV footage showed Kearney kicking someone on the ground once.

Gilmore tried to run from gardai but was arrested that night while Kearney went to gardai the following night. Both men entered early guilty pleas.

All of the victims have recovered from their injuries.

Neither accused has any other convictions and neither has come to the attention of gardaí since.

Gda Johnson described the incident as a "night of binge drinking that went wrong".

Michael Bowman BL, defending Gilmore, said his client came from a solid decent family and was ashamed of his actions on the night.

He said the County Down native had no alcohol difficulties although alcohol had played a part in this incident. A number of character references outlined Gilmore's active contribution to the community.                          

Irish Independent

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