Tuesday 19 February 2019

Son of 'singing priest' spared jail again after headbutting barman in attack

Ross Hamilton (41)
Ross Hamilton (41)
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

A SON of one of Ireland’s best-known priests has admitted headbutting a barman in the face in a drink-fuelled attack when the victim tried to break up a pub row.

Ross Hamilton (41), son of the late “singing priest” Fr Michael Cleary, had been drinking all day and “felt crowded” when he reacted by striking the barman.

He went on to hurl abuse at staff as they restrained him until gardai arrived.

Hamilton was spared five months in prison and instead ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service.

Judge Ann Ryan told him his behaviour had been “completely unacceptable”.

It is the second time that Hamilton, who has worked as an actor but is now unemployed, has avoided jail for a pub assault.

Hamilton, of Newcastle Manor Park, Newcastle, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to the barman, as well as threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour.

Dublin District Court heard that the incident happened at Slattery’s, on Grand Canal Street, on December 18, 2016.

Fr Cleary with Phyllis and son Ross
Fr Cleary with Phyllis and son Ross

Garda Paul Jordan said there was an altercation between customers and a member of staff intervened when Hamilton struck him with his head in the face.

He was restrained by other staff members and continued to act in an aggressive and abusive manner until gardai arrived.

The victim suffered bruising and swelling to his face, the garda said.

He attended hospital that night but left after being treated.

The barman, who had since made a full recovery, did not want to provide a victim impact statement and there was no medical report in court.

The court heard that Hamilton had nine previous convictions, the last of which was in July 2011, also for assault causing harm.

He was ordered to carry out 240 hours of community service instead of a prison sentence on that occasion.

Before that, he had been given the benefit of the Probation Act in 2005 for public order offences, including violent behaviour in a garda station.

Hamilton had been out with friends on the night in question and had been drinking all day, his lawyer said. He did not have anything to eat.

An argument took place and the barman tried to split it up.

The accused “felt crowded” when the bar staff came around him and he reacted in the way he did, his lawyer said, adding that his client apologised.

Hamilton had been working at the time but was unemployed now and looking for a job in construction, the court heard.

“He didn’t set out on the night to injure anyone, especially someone on the premises doing their job,” his lawyer said.

The accused was staying with a friend at the moment.

Hamilton “knows he can’t get into this kind of trouble again” and was staying away from alcohol, his lawyer added.

BLOOD

“Your behaviour was completely unacceptable,” Judge Ryan told Hamilton. “You are very lucky the injured party only received minor injuries.”

Hamilton’s assault conviction in 2011 came after he admitted breaking a doorman’s nose outside the Botanic House pub in Glasnevin on October 1, 2010.

In that incident, Garda Elaine Smith said she saw security staff from the pub “waving for assistance”.

The victim had blood on his face and a swollen nose and had to attend hospital.

He needed an operation as a bone in his nose was broken and “sticking out into the left nostril”.

Following the death in 1993 of Fr Michael Cleary, who was popularly known as the “Singing Priest”, it was revealed that he had fathered two children with his housekeeper Phyllis Hamilton, with whom he had a relationship for 26 years.

Their first child was given up for adoption, while their second, Ross, lived in Dublin at a parochial house in Harold’s Cross, with Fr Cleary and Phyllis, who died in 2001.

Herald

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