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Tattoo artist found guilty of attacking garda

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Devin Singleton
Devin Singleton

A TATTOO artist has been found guilty of attacking and injuring a garda after he was challenged leaving his business premises late 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. 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.

He was also found guilty of resisting arrest but Judge Bryan Smyth dismissed a charge for unlawful possession of a small Tomahawk hatchet.

Judge Smyth said they were serious charges that warranted a prison sentence. However, he noted the man had no previous convictions and testimonials including one from a man who 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.

He adjourned sentencing until April for a probation report on Singleton's suitability to carry out 200 hours' community service in lieu of a nine-month jail sentence.

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, struck by the accused before being placed in a headlock and grounded in a violent struggle.

He pressed the panic button on his radio to 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 both men went 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 his client, who is interested in martial arts, used this 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 Singleton told gardai about a law book he had read and that he was versed in his rights. The garda denied 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 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.