Tuesday 24 October 2017

Drunk student brandished hatchet at men over broken laptop, court hears

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Isabel Hayes

A drunk student who brandished a hatchet at some men over a broken laptop will be sentenced to 200 hours of community service, provided he is suitable.

Judge Karen O'Connor sentenced Derek Walsh to 18 months' imprisonment today but said he could carry out 200 hours community service in lieu of that sentence.

She ordered a community services report to ascertain Walsh's suitability and adjourned the matter to December 1 for a final decision.

Walsh (29) with an address in Clogher Road, Crumlin, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of producing a hatchet in the course of a dispute at St Anthony's Road, Dublin on June 10, 2016.

Garda Colin Manning told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that gardaí were called to the residential area at 10am on the morning in question by neighbours who said men were fighting with knives on the street.

When gardaí arrived in the area, two men started acting aggressively towards them. They then saw Walsh running towards one of the men while brandishing a large hatchet. “That man had to take action to escape injury,” Ms McGowan said.

Walsh then fled the area, pursued on foot by gardaí. He threw the hatchet over the roof of a house before being brought to the ground by officers. He was highly intoxicated and was unable to be interviewed until later that day, the court heard.

He has 71 previous convictions including theft, production of an article, public order offences and road traffic matters. He was the only person charged over this incident.

Katherine McGillicuddy BL, defending, said her client had been studying pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing at FETAC Level 8 at the time of the offence.

She said his laptop was damaged by one of the men on the morning in question. “He was very annoyed because it contained certain work he needed for college,” she said.

She said Walsh came from a supportive family and had a good education, but that he started drinking alcohol and experimenting with head shop drugs in his late teens, starting a “downward spiral”.

He is now substance-free and is working as a scaffolder having failed some of his college exams. He is hoping to pursue his studies again in the future, the court heard.

Walsh regretted his actions and wished to apologise, Ms McGillicuddy said. No-one was injured during the incident and no victim impact statements were handed in.

Judge O'Connor said Walsh came from a more advantageous background than many offenders who came before the courts. And she noted the use of a hatchet was “a concern”.

“Regardless of what the argument is over, whether it's a broken laptop or whatever, it can never be resolved by brandishing an article of this nature,” she said.

She accepted Walsh was remorseful and noted he had skills and qualifications. She remanded him on continuing bail to await the outcome of the community services report.

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