Wednesday 13 December 2017

Man who lived under bridge jailed for breaking bottle over Garda’s head

By Conor Gallagher

A man who lived under a bridge for two years has been jailed for breaking a bottle over the head of a garda.

Seamus McGrath (48) was drinking publicly in Dun Laoghaire when he struck Gda Brian Whitney.

The garda was wearing a bicycle helmet at the time but suffered a concussion and was off work for a week.

McGrath’s defence counsel said he had been living under Templeogue Bridge for the previous two years where he found “shelter and peace”. He has 61 previous convictions, including assault and burglary, which were all dealt with a district court level.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring noted it was a serious assault that could have potentially been fatal. She imposed a three year sentence but suspended the final year and backdated it until October 2011. She also imposed 12 months post-release supervision by The Probation Service.

McGrath of no fixed abode pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to Gda Whitney at the Royal Marine Hotel on October 30, 2011.

Sergeant Declan Egan told prosecuting counsel Cathleen Noctor BL that Gda Whitney was on bicycle patrol when he came across McGrath who was drinking cans in the grounds of the hotel.

The garda told him to stop drinking and that he was arresting him on an outstanding bench warrant. McGrath co-operated and asked if he would receive a meal at the garda station.

He then opened another drink and when Gda Whitney told him he couldn’t drink it McGrath’s attitude became violent. The garda felt a sharp pain as McGrath hit him over the head with the bottle.

Gda Whitney used his pepper spray twice on McGrath before backup arrived and arrested him.

The garda went to the hospital the next day suffering from pain and blurred vision. He was given anti-inflammatory medication and spent a week off work.

Sgt Egan agreed with defence counsel Ronan Kennedy BL that McGrath was in very difficult circumstances and had been homeless for a long time.

Counsel said his client was very drunk at the time and that it was a “spontaneous” attack. He said McGrath lived a solitary existence under the bridge and has been unemployed since his mid-thirties.

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