Soldier who assaulted man in Temple Bar will not face more severe sentence

Andrew Gilmore
Andrew Gilmore

A serving member of the Irish Defence Forces will not face a more severe sentence for committing violent disorder in the Temple Bar area of Dublin, despite an appeal by prosecutors.

Andrew Gilmore (27), with an address at Gormanstown Army Barracks, Co Meath had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to violent disorder at the Central Bank Plaza on February 9 2012.

Judge Martin Nolan imposed a two-and-a-half year deferred sentence on Gilmore on November 29 2013 on condition he keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a specified time and make €3,000 available to the injured parties.

Gilmore is a serving member of the Irish Defence Forces and the Court of Appeal heard that a custodial sentence, suspended sentence or a fine in excess of €800 would have automatically lead to his discharge from the army.

The Director of Public Prosecutions sought a review of Gilmore's sentence yesterday on grounds that it was “unduly lenient”.

Counsel for the DPP, Fergal Foley BL, said the army were “very keen on protecting their reputation” and on “keeping their organisation clean”.

Mr Foley said the judge showed “far too much mercy”, gave too much weight to the mitigating circumstances and it was appropriate to impose a custodial sentence suspended in part or in whole on Gilmore.

Speaking on behalf of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice George Birmingham said two gentleman were outside Madonna's nightclub in Temple Bar conversing with others when one had gone back inside to get his jacket.

While he was gone the conversation had turned into a disagreement and when he returned he found his friend lying unconscious on the street.

Gilmore had assaulted the man lying on the ground, Mr Justice Birmingham said, and thereafter had gone towards the Central Bank Plaza with his co-accused who also a member of the Defence Forces.

The man who had left his jacket inside Madonna's pursued Gilmore and his co-accused toward the Central Bank Plaza, the judge said, where he himself was assaulted by Gilmore and his co-accused.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the three-judge court had viewed CCTV footage and it was an incident of such seriousness that an actual custodial sentence involving immediate incarceration arose for consideration.

“It has to be said that incidents of gratuitous casual violence are all too frequent,” Mr Justice Birmingham said and “incidents emerging from the Temple Bar area are not uncommon”.

Such incidents dealt with by the courts in a serious manner often attract actual custodial sentences, he said. In this case though there were significant mitigating factors present.

A suspended sentence would have had very serious consequences for Gilmore, Mr Justice Birmingham said and in those circumstances the judge had taken the “unusual step” of looking at a deferred sentence.

The judge could not be criticised for doing so, Mr Justice Birmingham said and the pursuit of other options was quite understandable.

He said the court had not been persuaded that there was a substantial departure from the norm or from the range of available sentences.

Accordingly, Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice John Edwards and Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, refused the DPP's appeal.

Mr Justice Birmingham said Gilmore had “provided distinguished service” to the Irish Defence Forces since he joined aged 18 and had recently served abroad.