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Ex-senator convicted of assault, gets driving ban

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James Heffernan was convicted on seven charges. Photo: Tom Burke

James Heffernan was convicted on seven charges. Photo: Tom Burke

James Heffernan was convicted on seven charges. Photo: Tom Burke

A former senator was convicted of kicking and spitting at gardaí when they arrested him outside a popular music festival after deciding he was intoxicated and a danger to himself.

James Heffernan (39), a former Labour senator and 2016 General Election candidate for the Social Democrats, was also disqualified from driving for three years after being convicted of driving while over the alcohol limit.

The former Limerick politician was arrested by gardaí three times in the space of 24 hours over July 31 and August 1, 2016.

One garda said that, after being arrested, the teacher boasted he had consumed "a whole heap of porter, whiskey and gin".

Heffernan, of Baile na Lyna, Kilfinane, Co Limerick, denied drink driving, two charges of dangerous driving, three assault charges and one public order offence before Fermoy District Court.

Previous court evidence alleged Heffernan spat in the face of an arresting garda with the officer later having to undergo precautionary blood tests.

Judge Brian Sheridan convicted Heffernan on a total of seven charges following a two-day case.

He noted that Heffernan had a 100mg blood alcohol level and disqualified him from driving for three years with a €500 fine.

Judge Sheridan reduced the two dangerous driving charges to careless driving, convicting on both counts and imposing a fine of €400.

The judge also convicted Heffernan on the three assault charges - two of common assault and one of assault causing harm. However, he adjourned sentencing on these charges to March 15 until a Probation and Welfare Service (PWS) report is ready.

"I should say that the evidence of the defendant was at strong variance with that of gardaí and the independent witness," the judge said.

Irish Independent