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Dad-to-be punched garda in drug search

A MAN who ruptured a tendon in a garda's arm when the officer tried to stop him for a search has been given an eight-month sentence.

Stephen Fitzpatrick (22) punched the garda's hand when he tried to detain him after watching him in a suspected drugs transaction with an undercover officer in Dublin city centre.

Judge Patricia McNamara imposed the sentence after Dublin District Court heard that Fitzpatrick was already serving a jail term.

The accused, with an address at Liam Mellowes Road, Finglas, pleaded guilty to assaulting a peace officer at Capel Street on February 10, 2011.

The court heard the defendant was engaged in a suspected drugs transaction with an undercover garda when two of the officers who had been watching approached and detained him for a search.

The victim identified himself as a garda and took hold of his jacket with his left hand.

The accused hit the garda's hand with his fist in an attempt to break free, rupturing the tendon in the officer's ring finger.

Fitzpatrick then ran away and was apprehended. The garda attended physiotherapy sessions and was out of work for four months. The prospects of a full recovery were low.

John Berry, for the defence, said the injury could not be considered an aggravating factor because the charge was not one of assault causing harm.

He said the defendant had given himself up without a struggle when he was apprehended.

Although the accused was pleading guilty, he maintained the victim had not identified himself as a garda.

The accused used his arm to try to release the garda's grip and the injury was the result of "one single manoeuvre: one movement that had very unfortunate consequences".

The court heard Fitzpatrick had a heroin problem at the time and in interview he told gardai he ran away because he was "scared". He also apologised and said he had no intention to hurt the garda.

"In a panic he struck out and tried to break free. I don't think Mr Fitzpatrick could have foreseen the damage caused."

The accused was in a relationship and his girlfriend was due to give birth in August.

Fitzpatrick had 26 previous convictions, for offences for weapons, drugs, endangerment and other offences. He was currently serving a sentence with a release date in 2014.