Stag party garda cleared of affray after kicking man to protect brother
A GARDA has been cleared of affray after a judge found he was entitled to kick a man who attacked his brother during a drunken brawl.
Garda Adrian Joyce (31), who is based in Pearse Street Garda Station in Dublin, was off duty and returning to his hotel following a stag party in Limerick when he and his brother, Nicholas Joyce (40), got caught up in a melee.
During a contested hearing Limerick District Court was told the charge related to an incident at O'Connell Street in Limerick in the early hours of July 7, 2013.
The Joyce brothers - who are both originally from Co Mayo - were walking back to their hotel with a friend when David McCarthy (28), from Merval Park, Clareview, Limerick, purposely lowered his shoulder, hitting Nicholas Joyce. A verbal and physical altercation ensured.
During what was described as a "running street fight", CCTV footage showed McCarthy adopting a boxing stance, which Inspector Seamus Ruane referred to as being akin to Muhammad Ali.
When gardai arrived on the scene McCarthy - who pleaded guilty - was behaving like an animal, according to one witness.
In his evidence Sgt Gerard Staunton recalled how after he asked McCarthy to move off the street he replied "f***k off" before running at the other three men, punching at them and resulting in all four falling.
Garda Ivan Hanniffy described how he had to use pepper spray to arrest McCarthy.
The court heard that Adrian Joyce kicked David McCarthy while he was on the ground on top of his brother Nicholas, a prison officer with an address in Lancashire in England.
Both brothers were charged with causing an affray by using, or threatening to use, violence.
It was submitted by defence counsel Michael Bowman (BL) that Adrian Joyce's actions were not unlawful as his motivation was to defend his brother.
Two Garda witnesses agreed under cross-examination that having viewed the CCTV this was a reasonable contention.
Following an application by Mr Bowman and Ted McCarthy, representing Nicholas Joyce, to have the charges dismissed Judge Eugene O'Kelly agreed.
Judge O'Kelly said a member serving in An Garda Siochana was not entitled to act above the law, however he was also entitled to the protections of the law. The judge added that people were entitled to protect themselves against violence and if it requires violence it may, in some circumstances, be lawful.
In relation to McCarthy the Judge noted he had no previous convictions and that the incident appeared to be a complete and total aberration. He said McCarthy was entitled to be given a chance and that if he paid €750 to the court poor box by October 1 he would leave his record clean.