Monday 17 December 2018

Ex-senator claimed gardaí told him to 'f*** off' at scene of assault

James Heffernan’s case was dismissed. Photo: Tom Burke
James Heffernan’s case was dismissed. Photo: Tom Burke

Tom Tuite

A former senator has claimed gardaí repeatedly told him to "f*** off" and arrested him after he expressed concern for the victim of a serious assault in Temple Bar, Dublin.

James Heffernan (38) walked free from court after he was cleared of public order offences and rejected claims he threatened to get a garda sacked.

The ex-Social Democrats and previously Labour party member was charged following his arrest on the night of March 10, 2016, in Temple Bar Square, where gardaí had to set up a perimeter following a serious assault on a man.

Mr Heffernan, of Main Street, Kilfinane, Co Limerick, pleaded not guilty at Dublin District Court to public order charges. The first was for failing to leave the area in an orderly fashion after being directed by a garda. He also denied the second charge for breach of the peace by engaging in threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour.

Mr Heffernan was still a member of Seanad Éireann at the time of the incident.

Garda Joe O'Connor told Judge Bryan Smyth the accused walked over to the cordon. Gda O'Connor said he observed that Mr Heffernan had taken drink. He directed him under the Public Order Act to leave.

Gda O'Connor said Mr Heffernan threatened him that he was member of the Dáil and "would get me sacked". He said he told him to leave the area or he would be arrested and he alleged that Mr Heffernan replied: "You will have to f***ing arrest me so." He was arrested and taken to Pearse Street Garda station and later released but refused to accept an adult caution.

Mr Heffernan in evidence said he was concerned when he saw an unconscious man and claimed he enquired if an ambulance had been called, but "I was told to f*** off, it had nothing to do with me".

Judge Smyth said the former senator probably got "a little bit more involved than he should have", but was giving him the benefit of the doubt and dismissed the case.

Irish Independent

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