Wednesday 21 February 2018

Give gardai Tasers for public order incidents - judge

Tom Tuite

A JUDGE has called for Taser stun guns to be issued to gardai to deal with out of control public order incidents.

Currently, the Taser weapons are restricted to trained members of the armed Emergency Response Unit, based in Dublin, and the five Regional Response Units.

Today, Judge Anthony Halpin, who was presiding at the Dublin Children's Court, heard that a 17-year-old boy bit a garda on the leg during a melee in Temple Bar last St Patrick's Day.

Gardai had to use an incapacitant spray on the first-time offender. However, Judge Halpin, who described the incident as “savage”, said: “Incapacitant sprays do not work after time, they [gardai] should have Tasers.”

“If someone gets out of control they should be able to use those Tasers,” he said adding that other police forces particularly in the United States use the stun guns.

“I cannot see why the Commissioner does not authorise them for gardai trying to maintain public order,” he said adding, “I firmly believe gardai should have Tasers.” Otherwise gardai face risks of being seriously injured, the judge also said.

The 17-year-old boy had pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Garda Niall McLoughlin at Crown Alley..

Garda Sergeant John Dunne told Judge Halpin that he and Gda McLoughlin had responded to a public order incident in the Temple Bar area. The teenager was seen “pushing and shoving” and became “irate” with Gda McLoughlin who then went to arrest him under the Public Order Act.

A scuffle ensued during which the boy “bit Gda McLoughlin on the thigh”. An incapacitant spray had to be used to restrain the youth who was then arrested and taken to Pearse Street Garda station.

The officer's skin was not broken from the bite but he sustained bruising to his leg, the court heard.

Defence solicitor Gareth Noble said the teen claims he had been trying to help a relative who had been “hopped on” in Temple Bar by five people.

He asked the court to note that the boy had no prior criminal convictions and his actions were “in the heat of the moment”, and out of character. Pleading for leniency, he also added that the boy, who is on bail, did not have any drink or drug problem, is in a sports club and is trying to better himself by getting onto a training course.

Judge Halpin adjourned the case until September to allow time for a probation report on the youth, who was accompanied to his hearing by his mother, to be furnished to the court.

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