Man who took part in violent disturbance at halting site avoids jail

Man who took part in violent disturbance at halting site avoids jail

A man who took part in a violent disturbance at a halting site and threw items at a garda van has been given a two year suspended sentence.

Joe O'Donnell (23), of Meakstown Close, St. Margarets Road, Finglas, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to violent disorder and damaging a garda Ford Transit van at St Philomena's Park in Blanchardstown on February 9, 2013. He has seven previous convictions.

A co-accused John Mongan, received a two and a half year sentence for his role in the incident in November 2015. A third accused, O'Donnell's brother Anthony, has died.

Judge Martin Nolan had remanded O'Donnell in custody after hearing evidence in the case last week. He remarked that O'Donnell had “made life miserable for the gardai.”

He noted O'Donnell had not been in prison before. “He should observe his surroundings because that may be his future if he does not behave,” he warned.

Judge Nolan imposed a two year sentence which he suspended on strict conditions.

He said that he was giving O'Donnell a second chance, which he should take advantage of. "If you don't, it's your problem," the judge said.

Sergeant John O'Donovan told Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, that gardai on mobile patrol in a garda van observed a blue space wagon driving at speed towards St Philomena's halting site.

The vehicle cut out just before the entrance and three males got out. They pushed it to get it going and then sped into the halting site. The garda van drove in after it to check it out.

Gardai pulled in and observed the now empty space wagon parked in one of the bays. The garda van was reversing out of that bay when three males began throwing glass and other items at the front window of the garda vehicle.

As one of the gardai exited the van the three males continued to throw items and one of them shouted “get the gun” so the garda got back into the van for safety. No gun was produced during the incident.

The garda van reversed out and they called for assistance. The three males went into a caravan.

When assistance arrived gardai approached the caravan and shouted for the door to be opened. One male, Anthony O'Donnell, came out swinging a crutch. Joe O'Donnell then exited and violently resisted arrest. The third man, John Mongan, remained inside hiding in a bedroom.

Sgt O'Donovan said there was tension between the three men and gardai. Joe O'Donnell was shouting at gardai and became very aggressive. He was physically restrained by gardai, put to the ground and handcuffed, after which he became very passive.

The court heard one of the gardai was bitten by Mongan during the incident. The front windscreen of the garda van was smashed and a front light was hanging off.

Sgt O'Donovan agreed with Peter Le Vert BL, defending, that the men had been mourning the suicide of Anthony O'Donnell's twin brother and were drinking heavily that night.

Mr Le Vert said the O'Donnell family had been visited several times by tragedy and Joe O'Donnell himself had lost a child. Two of his brothers were in psychiatric care and he helped his mother care for an older brother with Down syndrome.

He said he had advised his client to speak to a doctor and O'Donnell now accepted he needed counselling.

Counsel said Joe O'Donnell had no previous convictions at the time of this offence, although he subsequently accrued road traffic convictions, and said he had no history of violence.