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Dublin docker headbutted garda sergeant after demanding return of house keys

Gary O'Donnell (35) demanded the return of his house keys so he could collect his sick father's medication

Finglas Garda Station Credit: Google Maps

Eimear Cotter

A docker headbutted a garda sergeant after he came into a garda station demanding the return of his house keys so he could collect his sick father's medication, a court heard.

Gary O'Donnell (35) became irate and frustrated with gardaí because he wanted his keys returned to him, and officers did not have access to the keys.

Judge Gerard Jones imposed a three-month sentence which he suspended for two years.

The defendant, with an address at Grove Avenue in Finglas, admitted assaulting a garda at Finglas garda station on January 12, 2017.

Blanchardstown District Court heard that O'Donnell had been a passenger in a car that had been stopped at a checkpoint earlier that day.

During that traffic stop, he was searched and his house keys were taken from him.

He came into Finglas station to get the keys back, became irate and aggressive towards gardaí and was asked to leave.

O'Donnell failed to comply with the direction, there was a struggle and during the course of the struggle Sergeant Paul Fanning was headbutted in the face.

Sgt Fanning, who has since retired, said he was initially shocked by the headbutt, but he did not require medical attention and had recovered within 24 hours.

Defence lawyer Ciaran MacLoughlin said O'Donnell had since apologised to Sgt Fanning, and the retired garda had accepted that apology.

Mr MacLoughlin said this was more a technical assault than anything, and O'Donnell headbutted Sgt Fanning in a backwards motion whilst he was being restrained.

Mr MacLoughlin said O'Donnell had gone into the station looking for his house keys which had been taken off him earlier that day during a traffic stop.

He said Sgt Fanning told O'Donnell he had no access to those keys, and the defendant became frustrated and completely over-reacted.

O'Donnell needed to get his father's medication, Mr MacLoughlin said, adding that the defendant's father had since passed away.

The lawyer said O'Donnell, a dad of five, was a docker, but had been unable to work in the recent past after he suffered a brain injury and a fractured eye socket.

Mr MacLoughlin asked the judge to be as lenient as possible, saying Sgt Fanning did not bear the defendant any ill-will.

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