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Father and son 'spat at gardaí' amid virus scare, court is told

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A father and son have been accused of assaulting two gardaí 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 officers as they carried out a routine drug search in Dublin city centre yesterday morning.

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

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

The accused, both from Clonard Road in Crumlin, are charged with assaulting gardaí Kate Mulligan and Kevin Carthy.

James Clarke is also charged with Garda obstruction and breach of the peace, at O'Donovan Rossa Bridge, Dublin 8.

Objecting to bail in Paul Clarke's case, Gda Mulligan said: "In light of Covid-19 there is already fear in the population."

To spit at gardaí "in this climate more so than ever, it's dangerous", she added.

Defence barrister Sarah Connolly said Paul Clarke was on disability allowance and had medical difficulties.

Gda Carthy said he was dealing with a "simple drug search" with another person when the co-accused became involved 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 gardaí, but accepted tensions were heightened.

"Everybody's lives have totally changed and there's a new order in place at the moment," Judge Walsh said.

"In relation to Covid-19, spitting on anybody, let alone the gardaí trying to carry out their duty, is a very serious offence," Gda Carthy said, objecting to bail for James Clarke.

James Clarke claims disability allowance for severe epilepsy.

Paul Clarke wore a blue surgical mask on his face during the hearing.

Irish Independent