Tuesday 12 December 2017

Garda convicted of assaulting two women in dispute over €15 payment for lift home

Verdict will have 'devastating consequences' for man who survived US shooting

Garda Brian Hanrahan outside Nenagh District Court yesterday Photo: Liam Burke
Garda Brian Hanrahan outside Nenagh District Court yesterday Photo: Liam Burke
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A Garda who survived a holiday shooting in the US was convicted of assault causing harm to two young women in a row over a €15 fee for a lift home.

Garda Brian Hanrahan (34) had vehemently denied before Nenagh District Court that he punched the two women in an unprovoked attack near an isolated Tipperary cemetery last year.

However, Judge Elizabeth MacGrath convicted the young Newcastle West-based garda of assault causing harm.

"Having studied the evidence very carefully... the court is satisfied that Mr Hanrahan is guilty of the two charges," she said.

Judge MacGrath noted that an independent witness, a security guard driving home, had seen a man holding a woman by her hair near Lisboney cemetery.

Judge MacGrath noted inconsistencies in Hanrahan's evidence, including his initial claim in a 999 call made from the scene, that he had been confronted by some six or eight people.

"I have found that Mr Hanrahan's account on the night in the 999 call was not accurate," she said.

Judge MacGrath also noted that, in his 999 call, Hanrahan said those confronting him were "a f***ing crowd of psychopaths".

When Judge MacGrath convicted him of the two assaults, Hanrahan bowed his head.

The young women assaulted, Aisling King and Emer Kelly, began crying.

Judge MacGrath adjourned sentencing until April 27 to allow probation and psychological reports to be prepared.

"The attitude (of Hanrahan) on the night ... and other issues ... does give rise to concern," she said.

Judge MacGrath noted that the garda had been mugged, shot and seriously injured while he was on holiday in New Orleans in the US in 2015.

Daniel O'Gorman, solicitor for Hanrahan, said the convictions would have "devastating consequences" for the young garda.

Hanrahan is a married father of two whose children are aged just six months and three years.

Ms Kelly and Ms King had sobbed while giving evidence about the assaults, which occurred when they had asked the young garda for a promised €15 payment for a lift home.

Read more: Garda shot on holidays convicted of assaulting two women on night out

In victim impact statements, they said that they had always respected gardaí but, after the assaults, they were now afraid.

"I couldn't believe that a guard could do this to me.

"The gardaí are meant to be there to help you," Ms Kelly said.

Hanrahan, who was off duty at the time of the incident last March, insisted he only acted in self-defence after he claimed one of the young women "launched herself" at him in a row over the lift fee.

Michelle O'Connell, for the State, said gardaí became aware of an incident in Nenagh at around 4am on March 6.

Ms Kelly was in Nenagh with her friends Aisling King and Ellen Nyhill in her new car.

Hanrahan had been out socialising, and then approached them and agreed to pay €15 for a lift.

"He was rude. He said that Nenagh was full of scumbags," Ms Kelly said.

The women asked Hanrahan to get out of their car at Lisboney cemetery.

"Aisling went to drive off but I said I will ask him for the money," Ms Kelly said.

"He pulled my hair and beat me to the ground."

Irish Independent

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