Soldier lifted garda off the ground by her neck

Andrew Phelan

A YOUNG soldier who assaulted a female garda in a disturbance at a south Dublin hotel has been given a four-month suspended sentence.

Jason Behan (25) lifted the officer up off the ground by the neck because he believed she had "rugby tackled" his pregnant girlfriend to the ground.

Denying the assault, Behan maintained he was acting as a "peacemaker" in a disturbance in which his partner's brother was being arrested.

Judge Michael Walsh said the attack on the garda had been totally unprovoked and unwarranted.

Dublin District Court heard Behan was no longer in the army since the incident in 2011 and was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder arising from overseas service.

The accused, with an address at the time at McKee Barracks, had pleaded not guilty to causing a breach of the peace and assaulting a peace officer, Garda Sinead Doyle, at the Burlington Hotel on December 4, 2011.

Judge Walsh found him guilty of both charges, fined him €300 and suspended the sentence for a year.

Garda Doyle, of Donnybrook Station, said she was among gardai dealing with an incident involving the accused's girlfriend's brother on the night.

Behan's girlfriend approached another garda, shouting at him to leave her brother alone. Garda Doyle told her to stay back, then grabbed her by the arm.

They both fell to the ground with the momentum and, as she was putting out her hand to help the woman up, she felt an arm around her neck and was lifted up and thrown to one side.

She was in a neck collar for days and missed several weeks off work.