Sunday 18 March 2018

Man jailed for throwing crowbar at off-duty gardai attempting to restrain mugger

Sonya McLean and Jessica Magee

A man has been jailed for three years with the final 18 months' suspended after he threw a crowbar at off-duty gardai who were restraining a mugger.

David Gibbons (41) of Thomond Road, Ballyfermot, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Gardaí David O’Neill and David Howard causing them harm on Main Street, Lucan, on March 9, 2012.

He also admits being in possession of a crowbar and driving a vehicle without the permission of the owner. This car, a Nissan Qashqai, had earlier been stolen during a burglary at the owner’s home.

Gibbons’ 45 previous convictions were largely for road traffic offences.

Dean Kelly BL, defending, told Judge Mary Ellen Ring that while his client has made these admissions, he disputes the evidence of Gda O’Neill that he deliberately struck him in the thigh with the crowbar.

He said Gibbons admits having the crowbar and throwing it in the direction of the gardai but claims he then immediately ran off and that there was no follow-up assault.

Judge Ring heard evidence from three civilian witnesses who said they saw the man throw a crowbar in the direction of gardaí.

The judge said she was satisfied that Gibbons had thrown the crowbar in such a way that had “sent it flying in a fashion where it was dangerously let loose at two gardaí”.

She said Gibbons should have just kept going when he saw the mugger being restrained on the ground. She said his actions had caused injuries to the gardaí and he should have known better at his age.

The court heard that Gibbons has refused to deal with probation and welfare services in the past because he was unwilling to discuss private family matters with strangers.

Gda O’Neill told Garnet Orange BL, prosecuting, that before the attack he was approached by a woman in Lucan while he and his colleague, Gda Howard, were on a rest day.

He said the woman was in a distressed state and physically shaken. She said she had just been robbed and a number of people were restraining the culprit, Michael McDonnell.

McDonnell (42) of Decies Road, Ballyfermot, pleaded guilty to robbery and was given a three-year suspended sentence.

Gda O’Neill said he and Gda Howard were helping to restrain McDonnell when Gibbons ran towards them carrying a crow bar in a threatening manner.

He said Gibbons then smacked him in the thigh and threw the crowbar at Gda Howard, striking him on the arm as he tried to protect himself.

The man then ran off before Gda Howard chased and arrested him.

Gda O’Neill refused to accept a suggestion from Mr Kelly that he was not deliberately struck by Gibbons but rather the crowbar was thrown in his direction.

Gibbons told the court that he just threw the bar at the gardai when he saw they had McDonnell on the ground and that he couldn’t explain how he injured two gardai by simply throwing the bar.

“I threw it and just turned on my heels,” Gibbons told counsel. He insisted there was “no possibility” that he struck Gda O’Neill.

Judge Ring suspended the last 18 months of the three-year sentence she imposed on Gibbons, but said he must go under the supervision of probation and welfare services for 12 months following his release.

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