Two Samoan rugby players attacked garda

Misioka Timoteo
Misioka Timoteo

TWO Samoan rugby players have been spared criminal records and jail sentences for attacking a garda in Dublin city-centre during a drink-fuelled incident.

Former international rugby player, Misioka Timoteo, 26, with an address at Maudlins, Naas, Co. Kildare and Paul Tolofua, 24, who resides at Riverlane Grove, Shankill, Dublin pleaded guilty to attacking Garda Adrian Coffey at Camden St in the early hours of February 15 last.

Dublin District Court heard the officer had been on plain clothes duty in an unmarked car when a group of three men and two women began banging his vehicle. It was alleged the two men tried to pull him out of the car and then attacked him before he had to use his incapacitant spray.

The judge applied the Probation Offenders Act after they complied with his order to €750 to the Capuchin Day Centre for homeless people.

The third defendant father-of-one Kinsah Matangi, 31, from Samoa, but now residing at St Gabriel's in Cabinteely, Dublin, pleaded guilty to obstructing gardai. He had blocked Garda Lee Gavin who had tried to come to the aid of his colleague. He was also given the Probation Act after after he gave €500, on account of his lesser role, to the same charity.

Judge Michael Walsh noted they were remorseful and had co-operated with gardai after their arrest and convictions would affect their rugby careers.

Gda Sergeant Gail Smith told Judge Walsh that the incident happened at 2.35am when plain clothes officers had been on patrol in an unmarked car. Three males and two females began banging on the patrol car.

Two men “attempted to drag Garda Coffey from the driver's seat while the engine was still running”. A struggle ensued and Gda Gavin tried to assist but was blocked by Matangi while a female tried to grab Gda Gavin's ASP baton.

“The other two were attacking Gda Coffey,” said Gda Sergeant Smith, adding that Gda Coffey had to use his incapacitant spray to subdue the two men. All three were then arrested and brought to Irishtown Garda station.

The court heard that none of the men has any prior criminal convictions and have not come to garda attention since.

Edel Gilligan BL, for Timetoe said, said he came to Ireland to study English. They went to a friend's house for a few drinks and then went out. She said Timeteo “has little recollection” of the incident and is ashamed and embarrassed.

Counsel said Timeteo had been sponsored to live in Ireland, coaches rugby here and trains children. She said he he hopes to take part in trials next month for the top English rugby side the Leicester Tigers and a criminal conviction would have a huge impact on his career.

Solicitor Kevin Tunney, for Tolofua and Matangi, also pleaded for leniency. He said Tolofua had a played semi-professional rugby in New Zealand and had studied accountancy there for two years. He came to Ireland to play rugby. 

He had no animosity towards gardai and had often played rugby when members of An Garda Siochana, the court was told as a letter from his club was handed in to court saying he “they hold him in high esteem”.

The solicitor said Tolofua had thought he was diffusing a row but desisted when he realised what was happening. He also interpreted for gardai following arrest and was very apologetic, the judge heard.

Mr Tunney asked the court to note that Matangi had a more minor role and did not know it was a garda. He had also written a letter of apology.

Gda Sergeant Smith also told the court that Gda Coffey accepted their apology. Judge Walsh said the incident was drink-fuelled but being taken to the garda station seemed to have a sobering effect and they were remorseful. Recording a criminal conviction would be disproportionate, he said.