A MAN told a group of undercover gardai they were "red hot", before punching one of them in the face.
Dean Kellett (24) fled after making the remark, which Dublin District Court was told was a well-known phrase meaning he knew that they were gardai.
Garda Sean Burns said he was on plain-clothes duty with two colleagues on Lower O'Connell Street when they met the accused, who was "continually staring at us".
"He made the statement 'You guys are red hot'," Garda Burns said. They followed him and he ran, knocking down a passer-by. They shouted: "Garda, stop."
He ran in to the Abbey Hostel, slamming the door in Garda Burns' face. The garda pushed the door open. "He (Kellett) stepped back, swung his fist and smacked me in the face with a punch," Garda Burns said.
As he was put to the ground, Kellett said they "were not guards", at which point Garda Burns produced his badge and said he was a garda.
"As he was placed in a garda car, he was still maintaining that we were not gardai," Garda Burns said.
Another garda told the court "red hot" meant "I know you are gardai".
"Have you never described somebody as hot in your life?" the accused's barrister asked.
"That is a very personal question," the garda replied.
A bench warrant was issued for Kellet's arrest after he failed to appear in court for his trial.
Kellett, of Rose Cottage, Vicar Street, Kilkenny, had pleaded not guilty to obstructing Garda Burns at Bachelors Walk on Dublin's quays on January 3.
Judge Dermot Dempsey found him guilty in his absence and issued a warrant for his arrest and sentencing.