A man who admitted throwing a rock through the rear window of a garda car at a water charges protest in Tallaght in 2104 has been given a fully suspended sentence of two and a half years.
Gardaí accepted that Dylan Collins (22) was “actually a decent lad” who got “carried away in the heat of the protest” and had never intended to hurt anyone.
Collins, a father-of-two from Bawnlea Green in Tallaght, had previously pleaded guilty to the criminal damage of a marked Hyundai garda car at Fortunestown Road, Jobstown, Tallaght on November 15, 2014.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Collins told gardaí on arrest that he threw the rock “because everyone else was” but that he accepted that his actions were “not on”.
Passing sentence today, Judge Martin Nolan accepted that Collins had remorse for what he had done and said it would be unfair to imprison him. But he added that the missile had been thrown 20 metres from the moving garda car and could have injured the guards who were inside.
The court heard the incident happened at about 4pm, about 15 minutes after former Tánaiste Joan Burton had left the scene, having earlier attended a local event. There were still about 100 gardaí in the area and an estimated 500 members of the public.
Former community policeman Garda Darren Rooney told the court he had known Collins for 14 years through various youth and school programmes. He agreed with Michael O'Higgins SC, defending, that Collins was “a decent lad” who had “allowed himself to be carried away in the heat of this particular protest”.
Mr O'Higgins said when Collins was arrested by gardaí on the day, he declined an offer of a solicitor and admitted he had shown poor judgement, saying, “I shouldn't have done it, I was wrong.”
The court heard that Collins was identified in a photo published by a national newspaper which showed him throwing a brick through the back window of a car carrying three gardaí.
Shortly before the incident, former Tánaiste Joan Burton and her advisor Karen O'Connell had left a graduation ceremony at An Cosán Education Centre, Jobstown, after protesters surrounded their car and delayed them for three hours.
After a nine week trial last year a jury found six men, including Solidarity TD Paul Murphy, not guilty of falsely imprisoning the women. Charges against a seventh man, Ken Purcell, were dropped halfway through the trial.
In October, charges against ten of Collins' former co-accused were dropped by Judge Melanie Greally.
Collins has 39 previous convictions, all for road traffic offences committed subsequently to this criminal damage offence.
Michael O'Higgins SC, defending, told the court today that Collins told gardaí on arrest that he'd thrown the rock “because everybody else was”, but accepted that his actions were dangerous, reckless, and “not on”.
Collins said his intentions on the day had been to “go out with some of the lads” and that he had not had any real intention of going to a protest. He acknowledged that the rock, which he said he got in a garden across from the church, would have been likely to damage the car.
Mr O'Higgins said his client had been 19 years old at the time and had been let go from a job with a fireplace company some two months earlier. He said Collins was involved in construction and was planning to set up his own business shortly.
Collins is due to marry his partner next year and looks after his widowed mother, who has renal failure and suffers from cancer.