13 Aug 2022

Drug addict gets suspended sentence for spitting blood and saliva at gardaí and paramedic

Drug addict gets suspended sentence for spitting blood and saliva at gardaí and paramedic

A recovering drug addict who spat blood and saliva into the faces of gardaí and a paramedic three years ago has received a fully suspended prison sentence.

Dillon Harris (24) had crashed a stolen car into a wall after encountering gardaí. He recovered from being dazed, then became aggressive and had to be restrained in handcuffs.

Garda Gerard Whelan and Dublin Fire Brigade Sub Officer Peter Fitzgerald approached Harris after he had already spat at two other gardaí in a patrol van.

Sergeant Kirsten Summers said that when Gda Whelan opened the van, Harris lunged forward and spat “blood, phlegm and saliva” into the two men's faces. He then said he had AIDS.

Harris of Kindlestown Park, Greystones, Co Wicklow pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to spraying blood at Gda Whelan, Garda Peter Byrne and Sub Officer Fitzgerald at East Wall Road, Dublin, on November 21, 2017.

He also pleaded guilty to driving a vehicle without the consent of its owner at East Wall Road and to reckless endangerment at Sheriff Street, Dublin, on the same date. He has no previous convictions.

Sgt Summers told Eoin Lawlor BL, prosecuting, that one pedestrian had to jump out of the way when the stolen Volkswagen Estate mounted a footpath. Harris also caused €3,456 damage to an Opel Corsa car before gardaí located him and he crashed into the wall. 

Sub Officer Fitzgerald said in his statement that this was the first time he had been spat at in 29 years serving with Dublin Fire Brigade.

Sgt Summers agreed with Pat Reynolds BL, defending that the incident was “out of character” for Harris and occurred after two traumatic events in his life, including the death of his close friend.

She further agreed Harris had appeared “out of his head” on the day and that he is now dealing with his addiction problems in rehab.

She told Mr Reynolds that she would be “very hopeful” for Harris's future as he has strong family support.

Mr Reynolds told Judge Sinéad Ní Chúlacháin that his client had taken up work while on bail and had raised €3,700 to offer as a token of his remorse. The judge ordered that this be split between the victims and a charity of their choosing.

She imposed concurrent prison terms of 22 months and of two years. She suspended the sentence for a period of five years on condition that Harris remain sober and engage in a restorative justice programme and with victim focused work.

The court heard Harris was considered unfit for interview following arrest. He eventually consented to giving a blood sample, after initially refusing.

Sgt Summers agreed with Mr Reynolds that this provided a lot of comfort to the people involved.

In a victim impact statement, the stolen car owners said they had bought the vehicle brand new with inheritance money. This vehicle was written off when Harris crashed it.

The court heard Harris was not involved in the car's theft.

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