29 Nov 2021

Longford judge tells man: 'Don't come back to this neck of woods'

Judge Seamus Hughes

Judge Seamus Hughes told a man at Longford District Court to not darken the door of his courtroom again.

A Co Mayo man and neighbour of Judge Seamus Hughes has escaped a criminal conviction after hurling abuse to gardaí at Athlone Train Station.

Damien McGrotty (39), 10B Garryduff Drive, Castlebar, Co Mayo was charged with breaches of Section 4 and 6 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order Act) 1994 arising from an incident at Athlone Train Station last Monday week (February 4).

The court was told gardaí were called to deal with an alleged disturbance involving a male.
Upon arrival, it’s alleged they found Mr McGrotty in an intoxicated state and who was causing a nuisance to the general public.

It was also revealed Mr McGrotty was “highly abusive” to both gardaí and staff members at the station which ultimately led to his arrest.

As he listened to the prosecution evidence, Judge Hughes asked if Mr McGrotty had been co-operative with gardaí in the moments that followed.

“Did he sober up in the station?” asked Judge Hughes.

“Not initially,” said the prosecuting garda.

“He refused to furnish an address and was quite abusive back at the station.”

Judge Hughes was also told Mr McGrotty had 38 previous convictions to his name, ten of which related to offences in Northern Ireland.

It was further disclosed Mr McGrotty had only recently completed a two month prison sentence for theft and hailed from Westport originally.

When that was relayed to the court, Judge Hughes said not only did he know the accused but that he also “lives just a few doors up from me”.

In defence, Frank Gearty said there was a personal nature behind his client’s propensity for alcohol.

“He was released from prison the day before and regretfully went on the beer,” said Mr Gearty.

He explained Mr McGrotty was a welder by profession but was currently unemployed.

“He has been unable to work because of the difficulties life has presented him and the difficulties he has presented,” said Mr Gearty.

At that juncture, Judge Hughes said his knowledge of Mr McGrotty was of a man who was largely well got in his home locality.

“I probably know more about this man than you do,” he said.

“He is a respectable lad who minds his own business but who disappears every now and again.”

In empathising with Mr McGrotty’s present anxieties, Judge Hughes added: “Obviously you have personal difficulties and you have to watch the drink and bite the tongue.”

Sporting a black jacket with grey trousers, Mr McGrotty indicated he wasn’t in a position to offer much by way of compensation to the court for what occurred the previous day.

“Don’t come back,” said Judge Hughes.

“You have got a chance from me. Don’t come back to this neck of the woods anymore.”
Judge Hughes struck out the Section 4 charge and dismissed the Section 6 offence under Section 1 (2) Probation Act.

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