‘The only law is free will’, man tells garda after Longford town row

Accused tells judge: 'I used to have a goldfish — it died, though," when asked about family background

Liam Cosgrove


Liam Cosgrove



Longford Courthouse.

A man has been sentenced to six months in prison following a public order incident in Longford town last year.

A Rooskey man who told a garda: “The only law is free will” during a public order incident in Longford town last year has been jailed for six months.

Father of two Damien Gargan, of 15 Riverwalk, Rooskey, was handed the sentence at last week's District Court sitting after pleading not guilty to an incident on June 19, 2018.

Mr Gargan, who represented himself, throughout the 10-minute hearing, had been in the process of being escorted back to Longford garda station following a Longford District Court sitting earlier that morning.

Garda Barry Gillespie said he had been one of four officers who accompanied Mr Gargan back to the garda station when the accused asked for a cigarette.

Upon being told there would be no time to grant Mr Gargan's request, Garda Gillespie said the accused suddenly became aggressive.

As the garda car pulled up at the station, Garda Gillespie said Mr Gargan, while being escorted from the vehicle, began “jumping around in an aggressive manner” as efforts were made to subdue him.

During the ensuing scuffle, Garda Gillespie said Mr Gargan lashed out at the back door of the garda station, breaking a glass panel.

Inspector Frank Finn said earlier that morning he had been in the process of separating two women who had become embroiled in a public order incident in Longford town when Mr Gargan became involved.

That resulted in Mr Gargan being arrested, charged and being held in custody while the District Court rose for lunch. Mr Gargan, however, rejected suggestions any attempt was made to headbutt the Inspector.

“That man is 5ft tall,” shouted Mr Gargan. “I would need to be sitting down to headbutt him. It's a joke.”

Mr Gargan said his hands were, at all times, kept behind his back, a claim he said would be borne out by CCTV.

Inspector Finn, though, told the court that although footage was available it did not cover the area concerned and was therefore not downloaded due to its lack of evidential value.

As Mr Gargan opted to decline any legal representation and address the court directly himself, Judge Seamus Hughes afforded him the right to cross-examine Inspector Finn in the witness box.

“Have you ever met me before today? Mr All the plans are in place, the money is in place. Now, it’s just a matter of delivering it,” Mr Gargan put it to the inspector.

“You don't know me from Adam do you? Did you even ask my name?”

When Inspector Finn said he didn't have an opportunity to do so, Mr Gargan claimed the case had no legal merit.

“Legally, it should be thrown out,” he told Judge Hughes.

“I stopped the altercation. How can this carry 12 months?

“It’s an absolute joke. It's a waste of time, it's bulls***. I am innocent of this. It's b*******. I will be able to prove it.”

As Judge Hughes considered his verdict, Garda Gillespie revealed the 42-year-old had 22 previous convictions.
Judge Hughes, in delivering his verdict, indicated he would be finding Mr Gargan guilty if he had anything else to say or whether he was willing to accept his culpability over what occurred.

“I am not sorry,” the accused replied.

Judge Hughes responded by asking Mr Gargan about his personal circumstances, a question which did not sit well with the Rooskey man.

‘I have two children,” he told Judge Hughes. “I used to have a goldfish — it died, though.”

Judge Hughes responded, describing Mr Gargan's actions as “bizarre, unconventional and a bit concerning”.

When the judge asked whether the accused was willing to pay for the damage, Mr Gargan said: “I am not paying for no window.”

Judge Hughes then sentenced Mr Gargan to six months in prison.