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Garda suffered savage beating from drug thug

A GARDA sergeant who suffered a broken jaw and other serious injuries when savagely attacked by a drugs dealer made a brave effort to preserve evidence during the onslaught, a judge said yesterday.

Patrick Irwin (31), a crime leader in the north-west launched a 20-minute attack on Sgt Brian Lee (46) in May 2010 when he was on High Court bail for possessing €67,000 cocaine for sale.

He was later sentenced to seven years for the cocaine offence. At Sligo Circuit Court yesterday, he was given another three years in jail when he admitted assaulting Sgt Lee at Rathrippon, Collooney, on May 29, 2010.



The court heard that Irwin, a father of three children by three women, was driving at between 70 and 75mph with his son in the car at 7am when he was stopped by Sgt Lee.

He told the garda it was none of his business what he was doing at that early hour and when a search started, which produced wads of €100 and €50 notes and plastic wrapping with powder, the assault by Irwin began almost immediately.

Judge Donagh McDonagh said Sgt Lee honourably behaved like every vigilant garda should and his suspicions were aroused by Irwin.

He was attacked by Irwin while he was attempting to preserve material which could have been evidence. The judge added: "He got a severe beating in a violent attack."

Judge McDonagh noted medical evidence which showed Sgt Lee suffered a broken jaw, lost a filling from a tooth, was lucky his jaw-bone wasn't displaced, and received multiple abrasions to his head, body and legs.

He also suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.

The court heard the wrapping of powder was lost in the assault by jobless Irwin but €1,550 and two mobile phones in the car were recovered.

The judge said: "What was this man doing with several mobile phones and cash concealed in the car?"



He noted that Irwin, of St Joseph's Terrace Sligo, had a serious criminal record, including burglary, criminal damage, misuse of drugs and the latest drugs offence for which he was serving seven years.

Earlier, Detective Sgt Con Lee, no relation to the victim, said Irwin kept trying to wrest the package from the Sgt Brian Lee's hand and repeatedly thumped him. The confrontation lasted 20 minutes. He threw the package and the money through a fence but Irwin, believing the sergeant still had the package, delivered further fist punches into the side and head.

In separate proceedings taken by the Criminal Assets Bureau, the High Court was told that Irwin was a member of one of the country's most high-profile criminal gangs.

In 2010, a former girlfriend of Irwin who has a child by him, was jailed for five years for transporting a gun which gardai believe was intended to be delivered to him.