Dublin tattoo artist avoids jail for garda attack

Devin Singleton
Devin Singleton

A TATTOO artist has been ordered to carry out 200 hours community service for attacking and injuring a garda after he was challenged leaving his premises at night wearing a balaclava.

Devin Singleton, 25, of Primrose Grove, Darndale, Dublin, had pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm to Garda Brendan Fitzpatrick but he was convicted of the charge. 

The garda suffered a fractured little finger during the incident at Edenmore Avenue in Coolock in Dublin on the night of January 25 last year.

Singleton was also found guilty of resisting arrest but Judge Bryan Smyth dismissed a charge for unlawful possession of a small Tomahawk hatchet. He was furnished with a probation report and ordered the tattoo artist to do community service - otherwise he would face a nine-month jail sentence.

Judge Smyth had said they were serious charges which warranted a prison sentence. However, he noted that Singleton had no previous convictions and had testimonials. A former employee said he had just come out of a drug treatment programme when Singleton gave him a job and taught him a trade which he now uses to support his family.

Garda Brendan Fitzpatrick told Dublin District Court he approached the defendant, who was coming out of a premises wearing what appeared to be a balaclava. 

He said it was close to midnight and he was met with aggression and was struck by the accused before he was placed in a headlock and brought to the ground in a violent struggle.

He pressed the panic button on his radio get assistance from colleagues. He was unable to tell them what was happening, just his location. "I found it difficult to breath," he said.

He alleged Singleton tried to get his baton and pepper-spray and during a struggle which sent both men to the ground. He disagreed with defence counsel Shaun Smyth that Singleton had just tried to deflect him and attempted to cushion his fall.

Counsel said that his client is interested in martial arts as a method of self defence. Mr Smyth suggested that Singleton asserted his constitutional personal and property rights and told gardai they did not have authority to search him and this frustrated the garda. Gda Fitzpatrick did not agree with the claims.

The court heard he suffered a fractured little finger and was off work for six months.

He said the man kept putting his hands in his pockets. Counsel said this was because he had a key to his business premises. Gda Fitzpatrick said he asked him a number of times to take his hands out of his pockets and he found it suspicious.

The defence said that Singleton told gardai about a law book he had read and that he was versed in his rights. The garda denied that or that he had then mocked Singleton.

He also denied that he attempted to search Singleton without authority and rejected counsel's suggestion that the accused had been asserting his constitutional rights, "and that is not something you encounter often on the streets of Coolock."

Singleton told the court he had been bringing the hatchet, which he had in his pocket during the incident, to a friend to use to chop wood and he claimed he had not been treated civilly.

In mitigation pleas, the court heard that his business went under last year and he had also suffered serious injuries when he was intentionally run over by a car. Counsel said his client had a genuine belief about his rights but may have misjudged the situation.