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Tram user searched for drugs because he has a 'pasty face', court told

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Luas tram.

Luas tram.

Luas tram.

A TRAM passenger was stopped for a drugs search simply because he had "a pasty face", his lawyer has claimed.

Daniel Clifford (34) said he was minding his own business when an unidentified man approached him from behind, put his hand on his shoulder and told him he would be sprayed with pepper spray if he did not provide his name.

"Is this the democracy we live in," defence solicitor Michael Hennessy asked Tallaght Court, claiming Garda Dara Kelly stopped Clifford simply "because he had a pasty face".

However, Judge John Lindsay found Clifford guilty of obstruction and fined him €250.

The defendant, from Forest Lawns in Kingswood, was found guilty before Tallaght District Court of obstruction under the misuse of drugs act at Fettercairn Luas stop.

Gda Kelly said he was on plainclothes patrol around 4pm on May 20 when he saw Clifford who looked "clammy" and "pasty-faced".

The garda claimed Clifford got up to leave the tram when he saw them.

He followed him off the tram, approached him and showed his official identification badge and put his hand on his shoulder.

Gda Kelly said Clifford told him to "f**k off". He also started swinging his fists.

Gda Kelly said he warned Clifford he would use his pepper spray on him if he did not calm down, and Clifford replied "go on you f**kers".

The court heard Clifford was highly violent and both Gda Kelly and Gda Simon Whelan had to spray him with pepper spray.

The first time it did not work, but it subdued Clifford the second time.

Mr Hennessy claimed the drug search was unlawful, and gardai stopped Clifford because they "didn't like the look of his face".

The court heard Clifford had no drugs on him.

In his evidence, Clifford said he was on the Luas, reading a book and listening to music via his headphones.

He got off the tram at Fettercairn and a man approached him from behind and put his hand on his shoulder.

Clifford, a father of two, claimed he was not shown any identification, and was told he would be pepper sprayed if he did not give his name to the men.

He further claimed gardai "mauled" him, and kicked him in the ankles.

Fining him, Judge Lindsay said he was satisfied Clifford, who is in receipt of disability, had obstructed gardai.

hnews@herald.ie


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