Clonmel's James O'Reilly jailed for assaulting two gardaí and violently resisting arrest
A 39-year-old South East man, who violently resisted arrest and assaulted two gardaí late at night, was sentenced to 11 months imprisonment and banned from driving for six years at Clonmel Circuit Court.
The sentence was received by James O'Reilly from Heywood Road Halting Site, Ard Geeha, Clonmel, who pleaded guilty at the court to assaulting and harming Sgt. Michael Murphy, assaulting Insp. Padraic Powell, obstructing Sgt. Murphy and being dangerously drunk at Ballincurry, Ballingarry on March 18, 2017.
He also pleaded guilty to failing to provide a specimen of blood or urine at Thurles Garda Station on the same night.
Gda. Louise Lordan told the court gardai received an anonymous report at 12.30am on this night of a vehicle leaving Ballingarry travelling in the direction of Killenaule with a number of drunk men on board. It was alleged the driver was also drunk. Gardai pursued and stopped a car at Ballincurry, Ballingarry at 12.40am. The driver James O'Reilly crawled into the back seat and a struggle ensued during which James O'Reilly cut Sgt. Michael Murphy's left arm with a key or other implement. James O'Reilly was forcibly removed from the vehicle during which he kicked Sgt. Murphy a number of times in the legs, torso and back. He also kicked Insp. Padraic Powell in the legs a number of times as he tried to arrest him. James O'Reilly was eventually arrested after being pepper sprayed and brought to Thurles Garda Station.
Gda. Lordan said Mr O'Reilly initially refused to give his name and address at the garda station and refused to provide a blood or urine sample. He eventually gave gardai his details and was charged.
Sgt. Murphy suffered a laceration to his left forearm and was treated at South Tipperary General Hospital. He also suffered minor bruising. Insp. Powell didn't sustain any injury.
Mr O'Reilly had 13 previous convictions for violent disorder, assault, theft, road traffic and public order offences, Gda. Lordan outlined.
Defence barrister Edward O'Mahony said this incident happened following a religious ceremony for one of his client's children. His client issued a written apology for his behaviour and wished to apologise in court to all the gardai for his actions that night.
His client's interview with the Probation Officer clearly set out his attitude to the offences he committed.
He fully accepted his behaviour was disgraceful and completely stupid. He accepted it was madness to drive in the state he was in.
In relation to the laceration suffered by Gda. Morrissey, Mr O'Mahony pointed out there was no information in the Book of Evidence as to how it came about. He suggested the injury may have been inflicted accidentally during the overall struggle rather than by using a key.
The barrister referred to a Probation Report that described his client's history of alcohol abuse, which he was attempting to deal with.
He submitted a letter from the Tipperary Rural Travellers Project confirming his engagement with that service.
Mr O'Mahony pointed out his client hasn't come to the attention of the gardai since this incident and this was the most serious matter to bring him before a court in 12 years.
The barrister added that this incident was a serious wake up call for Mr O'Reilly and maintained he was unlikely to come before the court again due to the shock it caused him.
He urged Judge Teehan not to impose a custodial sentence.
Before imposing sentence, Judge Teehan said Mr O'Reilly resisted arrest very strongly and very violently and it took a number of gardai to subdue him. Then when he was brought to the garda station, he exhibited the opposite of co-operation.
The Judge said gardai were expected to be robust but they shouldn't have to put up with this sort of behaviour. It was very much to Sgt. Murphy's credit that he accepted Mr O'Reilly's apology and he surmised the sergeant must have been affected psychologically having been confronted by such savage resistence.
Referring to Mr O'Mahony's defence, the Judge said it was urged on the defendant's behalf that he won't come back before the court again but he was a man with 13 previous convictions.
The Judge noted the defendant was given previous chances by the court but hadn't been prepared to take those chances and the Probation Service placed him at a high risk of re-offending.
He took into account the mitigating factors of his plea of guilty, his attempts to overcome his alcohol abuse problem and the disadvantages he suffered from such as a literacy problem.
But Judge Teehan stressed he also had to consider when imposing penalty the issue of detering people from committing offences of this nature.
In view of this, he sentenced Mr O'Reilly to five months imprisonment for assaulting and harming Sgt. Murphy and imposed a consecutive four months prison term for assaulting Insp. Powell.
A further consecutive two months prison term and six year driving ban were imposed for failing to provide a specimen of blood or urine at Thurles Garda Station.
The public order offence of being drunk and a danger to yourself and others was marked proven and taken into account in the overall sentence.
Judge Teehan rejected Mr O'Mahony's request to reduce the driving ban to four years.