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Drunk man scared pupils in schoolyard

A MAN who scaled the railings of a north Dublin primary school to play with pupils while drunk has been convicted of criminal trespass.

Children as young as four were out in the schoolyard when Christopher Griffin (21) climbed in and began kicking a ball around.

He was a past pupil and said he was there to see an old teacher, but was asked to leave and prosecuted for criminal trespass.

Dublin District Court heard he had been drinking at the time because he was traumatised by the loss of two sisters, who had died in the space of a year. Judge David McHugh gave him a one-month suspended sentence.

Griffin, of Thatch Road, Whitehall, denied a charge of trespass causing fear. He insisted he had no intention of frightening the children in the playground at the time.

The incident happened at Scoil Mhuire Iosaf at St Mary's Place, off Dorset Street on May 24.

Garda Kieran Hickey, who was called to the school, showed CCTV footage of what happened to the court.

"By his age and size, that would have caused fear in the children, and he was intoxicated as well," Garda Hickey said.

Principal Catherine O'Connell said anyone visiting the school had to use the main front entrance. The only other access was to the sides, and this was for pupils arriving and leaving.

A teacher at the school, Greg O'Connell, said the defendant was intoxicated when he spoke to him and asked him to leave, at around noon. He initially failed to leave, but eventually did so, the court heard.

"I hopped over the railing to have a game of football. I was like any other pupil dropping into their old school for a game of football and a chat," the defendant said in evidence.

"I wasn't harming anybody. I wasn't there to disturb the school."

Garda Hickey put it to him that some of the children were seen "backing away" from him.

"They were stepping back because they didn't know who I was," the accused said.

He admitted he was intoxicated, saying: "I was only after losing two sisters. Wouldn't you be upset?"

The court heard Griffin had previous convictions for public order offences, attempted robbery and supply of drugs.