Friday 22 February 2019

'I'll slap you around' - Rihanna's former head of security guilty of garda harassment

Rihanna's former head of security Geoff Keating
Rihanna's former head of security Geoff Keating
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

RIHANNA’S former head of security has been found guilty of harassing a garda with a string of abusive text messages, calling him a “bitch” and threatening: “I’ll slap you around.”

Geoffrey Keating (40) sent a series of nine messages to the officer’s private phone in the space of 90 minutes, saying: “you and your bully pals… you are not fit to wear that uniform.”

He was spared jail when Judge Ann Ryan handed down a suspended six-month sentence at Dublin District Court and ordered him to stay away from the garda sergeant indefinitely.

Bodyguard Keating worked for pop star Rihanna in 2012 and 2013.

The accused, of Woodbank Drive, Valley Park, Finglas, had pleaded not guilty to harassing Garda Segeant Brendan Carey in 2016. While he admitted sending the texts, he claimed they were not directed personally at Sgt Carey but referred to allegations that another named garda had strip searched two youths.

Keating said Sgt Carey’s was the only number he had and he sent the text in the hope that his complaint would go “up the chain.”

Former bodyguard Geoffrey Keating and pop star Rihanna
Former bodyguard Geoffrey Keating and pop star Rihanna

Det Sgt Gavin Ross told the court Sgt Carey received messages through the Viber app to his personal phone on August 21, 2016.

Det Sgt Ross went to the accused’s home in Finglas on August 24, took possession of his phone and arrested him.

In interview, when asked if he knew why he had been arrested, Keating said: “I do indeed, yeah, it took yous long enough though.”

He alleged that a week and a half earlier, two youths had been stopped by gardai and made strip down to their boxers for a search.

Keating told gardai in interview he texted Sgt Carey because he already had his number and wanted to get arrested so he could get his case across.

“I’m not going to stop at anything until I get this stopped, and stop gardai abusing young kids,” he said.

He said he knew there would be a “knee jerk reaction” and he would be arrested.

Asked if he texted Sgt Carey because that was the only garda phone number he had, he replied: “exactly, I couldn’t even tell you what he looks like.”

He wanted his complaint to be sent “up the chain” and said he would “apologise to the man when I see him.”

“The fun will start when I get to court,” he added.

He also referred to garda corruption in the interview.

After the messages were read back to him, he said he wanted to point out that he had been on a lot of pain medication at the time. He said he was a fitness fanatic but was “smoking weed to calm me down… to stop me doing something mad.”

He said one of the other gardai was a “corrupt little scumbag.” When charged, he replied: “you are all corrupt.”

Gda Carey told the court he is now stationed at Dundalk and had worked in Finglas but was based at Raheny on the date he got the texts.

He said he gave Keating his phone number two years earlier when the accused had helped gardai change the wheel of a garda patrol car. At the time, Keating said he had concerns about anti social behaviour and crime in the Finglas area and Sgt Carey passed him on his personal number.

The court heard the messages were sent between 2.06pm and 3.36pm.

When he received the texts, Sgt Carey did not initially who they were from, did not know if they were a joke and became concerned.

Excerpts were read out to the court.

In the first, to which Sgt Carey did not reply, the accused said: “I don’t know what drugs you and your bully mates in the station are taking.”

When he texted “I’m going to put a stop to the lot of you one by one,” Sgt Carey said he interpreted that as a threat.

“Not knowing who sent the sinister messages was very concerning,” he told the court.

“Nothing to say, bitch??,” the next text read, to which Sgt Carey replied three minutes later: “Who is this??”

The next message referenced two other gardai, and Sgt Carey replied: “well done, you are a hero.”

Sgt Carey told the court this was a “flippant remark made to an unidentified sender.”

After this, the accused identified himself and texted: “You and your bully pals, I’ll slap you around. You are nothing but a piece of crap, you are not fit to wear that uniform.”

“You’re a gobshite and I’m warning you if you put your hand on another child I’ll make you wish your Ma swallowed,” he said.

Keating next asked Sgt Carey about his “hero” comment and said:  “watch your little mouth,” the court heard.

“Now f**k off and try to do your job within the law because there’s more than me watching, fool," the final message read. "Mark my words, you will be brought to book for your actions. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. It’s all tactics now, bitch.”

Sgt Carey said he took the text messages to be directed at him and the other two named gardai. He took the final message to mean that Keating “would persist.”

Sgt Carey said he felt threatened, was extremely concerned but was off work and reported the incident to his superiors two days later.

In evidence, Keating said the texts were not directed personally at Sgt Carey but “the gardai as a whole.”

In cross-examination, he said at the outset he had just wanted to make someone aware of his frustrations. He became antagonised by the “hero” comment because that was the nickname gardai in Finglas had for him, he said.

He said that two hours before he texted Sgt Carey, he believed he had spoken to him on a different phone.

“He was well aware who I was,” the accused said.

He denied intending to put fear into Sgt Carey. He said all he was asking was for the gardai to “do their job within the law and leave children alone.”

The court heard Keating had nine previous convictions for offences including unauthorised taking of a vehicle and deception.

He had a "troubled background" and "frustrations," Defence solicitor Michael Hanahoe said.

Things "went awry" and he did not anticipate the manner in which it would turn out.

When the order to stay away from Sgt Carey was put to him, Keating told the judge: "I fully understand that."

Judge Ryan said it was a serious case and while gardai were “well used to being given a rough time”, they were entitled to be treated with “a certain amount of respect.”

 

She suspended the sentence for a year.

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