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Father and son accused of assaulting gardai by spitting on them amid Covid-19 fears refused bail


James Clarke of Clonard Road, Crumlin

James Clarke of Clonard Road, Crumlin

James Clarke of Clonard Road, Crumlin

A FATHER and son have been accused of assaulting two gardai by spitting on them amid public fears over the spread of Covid-19.

Paul Clarke (49) and his son James Clarke (27) allegedly spat at the gardai as they carried out a routine drug search in Dublin city centre this morning.

The incident was recorded by a crowd of onlookers and the footage has already been posted on Facebook, one of the alleged garda victims told Dublin District Court.

Judge Miriam Walsh refused both accused bail and remanded them in custody.

The accused, both from the same address at Clonard Road in Crumlin are charged with assaulting Gardai Kate Mulligan and Kevin Carthy.

James Clarke is also charged with garda obstruction and breach of the peace.

The offences are alleged to have happened at O’Donovan Rossa Bridge, Dublin 8 this morning.

Garda Mulligan said she arrested Paul Clarke at Merchant’s Quay at 11.35am today and brought him to Kilmainham Garda Station, where he made no reply to the charges after caution.

Objecting to bail, she cited the seriousness of the charges, saying it was alleged the accused spat on her and Gda Kevin Carthy as they tried to carry out their duties.

She said there was a crowd gathered around, recording the incident and the gardai had since viewed this on social media and were making endeavours to get that footage.

“In light of Covid-19 there is already fear in the population,” Gda Mulligan said, and to spit at the gardai “in this climate moreso than ever, it’s dangerous.”

Defence barrister Sarah Connolly said Paul Clarke, who was on disability allowance, had medical difficulties, having had a kidney transplant three years ago. He also had issues with his gall bladder and ulcers on his neck that were travelling to his brain, she said.

Gda Carthy said he was dealing with a “simple drug search” with another person when the two co-accused became involved in the incident and it “got out of hand.”

“They started spitting at us, there were official batons used and pepper spray was used,” the garda said. “I was spat at at least twice.”

Ms Connolly said Paul Clarke denied spitting at the gardai. He accepted tensions were heightened and things might have got out of hand, she said, but he was “not involved in spitting at the gardai”.

The allegations were “at the lower end, notwithstanding current matters,” Ms Connolly said.

“Current matters are going on and everybody’s lives have totally changed and there’s a new order in place at the moment,” Judge Walsh said.

Paul Clarke stood wearing a blue surgical mask on his face during his bail hearing.

Gda Carthy said James Clarke was arrested at O’Donovan Rossa Bridge and made no reply to the charges at Kilmainham Garda Station.

Objecting to bail, he said there had been a “large crowd” and a lot of witnesses had phones recording it.

“In relation to Covid-19, spitting on anybody, let alone the gardai trying to carry out their duty is a very serious offence,” he said.

It happened in front of a large crowd in the middle of Dublin city centre and he was “fully against” James Clarke being granted bail, he added.

James Clarke was also on disability allowance. When asked what for, he told the judge he had “severe epilepsy.”

Both gardai said they would not be satisfied with bail conditions, such as a requirement to sign on at a garda station.

Judge Walsh remanded the accused in custody, to appear in Cloverhill District Court on March 30.

Online Editors