Saturday 23 March 2019

US pharma executive went on rampage in Irish hotel, causing €16k in damage and assaulting receptionists

US businessman Albert Santiago pictured at Cork Circuit Court.
Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts
US businessman Albert Santiago pictured at Cork Circuit Court. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts

Ralph Riegel

A US executive went on a rampage in a Irish hotel after a combination of whiskey and prescription medications causing over €16,000 in damage, assaulting two receptionists and throwing heavy fire extinguishers from the fifth floor down onto the ground floor lobby.

Albert Santiago (54) from Chicago in the US pleaded guilty to a total of 16 charges before Cork Circuit Criminal Court arising from incidents at the Clayton Hotel on Lapps Quay in Cork city centre on August 12 2018.

Judge Sean O'Donnabhain was told that Santiago - a specialist engineering executive with a major US pharmaceutical firm - has since lost his job as a result of the incidents.

Santiago pleaded guilty to two assault charges, one charge of reckless endangerment, one charge of engaging in threatening and abusive behaviour, one charge of being intoxicated and a danger to himself and others and 11 charges of criminal damage.

Judge O'Donnabhain was told a total of €16,000 in damage was caused to property at the hotel on the night in question including art work, a revolving door, a lift call station, a fire station, walls, glass panels, a fire extinguisher, chairs, a table, a hotel bedroom door and golden spheres.

The reckless endangerment charge arose, the court heard, from Santiago throwing a metal fire extinguisher and heavy furniture from the fifth floor balcony of the hotel down through the atrium and onto the ground floor reception area.

No one was injured during this element of the incident.

However, Santiago also admitted assaulting two hotel staff who were working in the reception area and attempted to calm him on the night in question.

One was pushed in the face.

Judge O'Donnabhain was told that Santiago - a veteran specialist engineer - had just arrived in Cork after flying from Chicago via London.

He was due to visit his company's east Cork plant for a work assignment the following day.

However, he consumed a whiskey in the hotel and then went to a bar near the Clayton Hotel.

The court heard he was on prescription medication at the time.

There was absolutely no involvement of recreational drugs as Santiago's firm insists all employees undergo regular routine drug screening and all his samples proved to be clear.

After leaving the pub, Santiago told Gardaí he recollected being assaulted as he walked back to his hotel.

Hotel staff said the US executive arrived back in the hotel in a dishevelled state and with blood on him.

The US executive regularly stayed at the hotel when he was sent to Ireland on business and staff were familiar with him.

Santiago told Gardaí he recalled feeling very paranoid as a result of the assault.

He became very agitated and then lost control - causing criminal damage and then throwing heavy items from the fifth floor balcony down into the reception area.

When staff attempted to calm him, he began shouting about "The Devil."

The incident only ended when Gardaí arrived.

Judge O'Donnabhain was told by Ray Boland BL, for the defendant, that he had lost his job of 31 years as a result of what happened.

He had been planning to retire within the next three to five years but now faces having to rebuild his career as an independent contractor willing to travel worldwide

Judge O'Donnabhain was told that Santiago was shown CCTV footage from the hotel of his behaviour that night and he was shocked by what he witnessed.

"I am disgusted," he told Gardaí.

"I do not remember doing that. I am shocked watching it," he added.

Mr Boland said his client was now anxious to finalise the matter.

He had brought €11,000 to court in compensation for the hotel and a further €5,500 in a bail bond would also be available for compensation once it was formally released.

The court was told that Santiago had no previous convictions and had never experienced an incident like it before.

Judge O'Donnabhain said he noted the defendant's plea, his co-operation with Gardaí, his remorse and his efforts to offer compensation.

A detailed psychiatric report had been submitted to the court.

However, he said he would adjourn sentencing pending the issue of compensation to the two staff members assaulted on the night.

"There are too many outstanding issues (to finalise sentencing). I see merit in adjourning matters," the judge said.

Santiago was remanded on continuing bail to appear again before Cork Circuit Criminal Court on November 1 next.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News