Tuesday 20 August 2019

'Jekyll and Hyde' former senator is jailed after spitting and kicking gardaí

James Heffernan showed a ‘complete blanket denial’. Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Limited
James Heffernan showed a ‘complete blanket denial’. Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Limited

Ralph Riegel

A former senator who kicked and spat at gardaí when they arrested him outside a music festival has been handed a three-month prison term.

James Heffernan, a former Labour senator and General Election 2016 candidate for the Social Democrats, boasted that he had "a whole heap of porter, whiskey and gin".

Heffernan (38) was convicted in January of multiple charges arising from his behaviour outside the 2016 Indiependence festival in Co Cork.

The Limerick politician had denied a charge of drink-driving, two counts of careless driving, three assault charges and one public order offence before Fermoy District Court.

However, he was convicted of drink-driving and was disqualified from driving for three years.

Judge Brian Sheridan warned Fermoy District Court that Heffernan seemed to have "a complete blanket denial" over what had happened that day.

The judge said the defendant's behaviour that day was of the "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" nature.

He said that Heffernan of Baile na Lyna, Kilfinane, Co Limerick, seemed to blame everyone but himself.

"It is a very sad situation - my overall impression is a total lack of reality [for the defendant]. I think the whole case is denoted by a total denial of the situation," said the judge.

The court was told the teacher and politician had suffered from mental health and addiction issues.

Judge Sheridan was warned the defendant currently faced "utter destitution" and had "fallen from grace".

However, the judge said he felt, given the defendant's attitude to the proceedings, he felt a community service order was unsuitable.

Heffernan, a teacher by profession, was convicted of two common assault charges and one charge of assault causing harm.

He had vehemently denied delivering "a kung fu" kick to a garda's back while officers were arresting him.

But witnesses claimed Heffernan spat or kicked out at three gardaí in total.

Irish Independent

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