Monday 20 November 2017

Grandfather (64) who 'severely' injured garda after trying to drag him over a wall during dispute avoids jail

Thomas Knox (64), of Tuscany Downs, Raheny, Dublin was given a three year suspended sentence for assault causing harm to Garda Shane Buckley and to criminal damage in May, 2014. Pic Collins Courts
Thomas Knox (64), of Tuscany Downs, Raheny, Dublin was given a three year suspended sentence for assault causing harm to Garda Shane Buckley and to criminal damage in May, 2014. Pic Collins Courts

Isabel Hayes

An arthritic grandfather caused severe damage to a garda's shoulder after he tried to pull him over a wall during a dispute with his next-door neighbour, a court has heard.

Thomas Knox (64) was highly intoxicated when he pulled down his next-door neighbour's fence and then assaulted a garda who was called to the scene, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told.

Knox, of Tuscany Downs, Raheny, Dublin , pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Garda Shane Buckley and to criminal damage on May 13, 2014.

Judge Pauline Codd suspended a sentence of three years on condition that he addresses his issues with alcohol and engages in a victim awareness programme.

Garda Sarah Connaughton told Eilis Brennan BL, prosecuting, that Knox's next door neighbour, a woman of around his age, arrived home in the afternoon to find part of her back garden fence had been pulled down and placed in Knox's garden.

The court heard Knox came out and shouted, “That's my f***ing wall and I'm going to knock it all down”.

Gda Connaughton and Gda Buckley arrived at the scene and spoke to the woman. Gda Buckley knocked on Knox's door and spoke to him briefly. He smelled alcohol on Knox's breath and left after Knox started verbally abusing him, the court heard.

A few minutes later, when Gda Buckley was out the back garden taking photographs of the damaged fence, Knox re-emerged from his house and started shouting abuse again. He then grabbed Gda Buckley's arm and tried to pull him over the shoulder-height wall.

“He had a tight hold of Gda Buckley's arm and he felt his shoulder pop,” Ms Brennan said.

Gda Buckley shouted for help and Gda Connaughton came out and pepper-sprayed Knox in an attempt to subdue him.

He was cuffed but refused to walk to the garda van and had to be dragged into it, Gda Connaughton said. He has three previous convictions for drink driving.

Gda Buckley suffered a significant tear to his shoulder cartilage and had to undergo surgery to repair it, Ms Brennan said. He was in a lot of pain, had his arm in a sling for four weeks and had to have extensive physiotherapy.

In a victim impact report, Gda Buckley said that although he returned to work some months after the assault, he was currently on leave due to mental health issues. He said the incident was “traumatising and frightening”.

“He now feels vulnerable and is no longer confident in his abilities,” Ms Brennan said.

Defence barrister, David Staunton BL, said Knox worked as a taxi driver for several years before he was forced to stop working due to ill health. He suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, heart problems and depression and had been on disability benefit for the last 17 years.

Mr Staunton said Knox's ill-health led to him developing an alcohol problem. He separated from his wife but had a new partner, as well as a son and grandchild.

Mr Staunton said Knox and his neighbour had grown up next door to each other and he had a long standing grievance about the back-garden wall, which his father had built.

Judge Codd previously adjourned the matter to allow Knox to work with Probation Services and address his alcohol issues.

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