Monday 18 December 2017

Waterford man who hit prison officer over head with steel bar gets three years in jail

Ben Haugh

A WATERFORD man who hit a prison officer over the head with a steel bar in an unprovoked attack has been jailed for three years.

Dane Collingwood (25) removed the legs of a table in his cell before launching a surprise attack on Officer Matthew Maguire.

Officer Maguire used his arm to block the first blow but was then hit on the head and had to be taken to a clinic for treatment.

Collingwood, of Ferrybank, Abbeylands pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm in Mountjoy Prison on July 3, 2010.

Judge Margaret Heneghan said: “This was a very serious attack in which the accused brought with him two metal legs from a table in his cell.”

She added: “Matthew Maguire is left with a visible 4.5 cm scar and doesn’t have hair on that part of his head.”

Judge Heneghan noted that the attack involved a weapon, was planned and unprovoked.

She also took note of Collingwood’s mental health, his admission of guilt and a letter of apology written to his victim.

She sentenced Collingwood to three years in prison, but suspended the final 12 months and recommended that “he be afforded all medical care appropriate”

When the sentence was read out Collingwood shouted: “Prison?” and protested, “They’re all molesters in there!”

Earlier, Garda Moira Fitzgerald told Rosin Lacey BL, prosecuting, that Collingwood removed two steel legs of a table and began acting aggressively towards Officer Maguire.

She agreed with Ms Lacey that it was an unprovoked attack and there was no warning.

When Gda Fitzgerald told the court that Collingwood has 89 previous convictions, he become agitated and shouted: “That’s none of your business your honour”

Judge Margaret Heneghan warned Michael Lynn, BL, defending, to control his client.

Collingwood then put his head in his hands and started sobbing and mumbling loudly.

Mr Lynn told Judge Heneghan that she would be given an extensive psychological report which would put his unusual behaviour into context.

The court heard that his previous convictions include burglary, assault of a garda and the theft of a car.

Mr Lynn said his client has written a letter of apology to Officer Maguire and has made full admissions of guilt. Gda Fitzgerald agreed with Mr Lynn that there had been no other incidents during the last two years.

The mother of the accused asked to be given the chance to speak. Margaret Collingwood told the court that her son had a serious eye problem and needed a cornea transplant to save his eyesight.

She said that he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was not getting proper medication when he was in Cork prison.

“He went into Cork prison and came out blind,” she said.

She said that he had been transferred from prison to prison and she rarely got to see him.

Mrs Collingwood told the court that her son is now living under her care and was in bed by 10pm every night.

Mr Lynn told the court that Collingwood suffers from personality disorder and is “emotionally unstable.”

“There is a chance to avoid his disorder becoming permanent,” he said. “There is a window of opportunity which could be lost forever.”

Judge Heneghan thanked Mrs Collingwood for giving evidence and ordered that the accused be facilitated to attend follow-up psychiatric and medical appointments while serving his sentence.

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