Longford judge spares man conviction after turning life around

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Longford Courthouse.

Judge Seamus Hughes spared a man a criminal conviction after learning how he had turned his life around

A man found in possession of a walking stick by gardaí after allegedly being assaulted with a slash hook in Longford town has escaped conviction after revealing how he has since managed to turn his life around.

Shane McDonnell, of no fixed abode, was stopped by gardaí shortly after 2am on November 8 2019 in the College Park area of town.

Sgt Paddy McGirl said Mr McDonnell was approached by officers who observed Mr McDonnell armed with the implement along with another man who is currently before the courts on knife possession.

When asked by gardaí why he was carrying the stick, Mr McDonnell allegedly told gardaí it was to support his leg, Sgt McGirl stated.

Mr McDonnell, who was wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt, indicated his motive for using a stick was predicated on medical grounds.

“I have two scars on my head and a twisted ankle,” he said, claiming his injuries had resulted from a “rap of a slash hook” sometime earlier.

“I didn’t know there was a pointed edge on it,” continued Mr McDonnell, in reference to the walking stick he was allegedly found in possession of.

His solicitor John Quinn said Mr McDonnell was not residing in Longford anymore and was now based in Dublin where he had since managed to not just secure, but hold down fruitful employment.

“It’s gainful employment, sheltered employment and he’s very much looking after the interests of his family,” he said.

Asked by Judge Hughes what the terms of those endeavours involved, Mr McDonnell said the recent coronavirus outbreak had proved especially beneficial to him.

“It’s hoovering floors, polishing floors, sanitising walls,” he told the court, adding his new job was likely to last for at “least a year” with a take home pay of up to €1,000 a week.

Mr Quinn also handed in a letter of reference from approved housing body Respond and told of how Mr McDonnell was also recovering from a long standing neck complaint.

“He’s got through it well and is looking after his family and wife who had post natal depression,” said Mr Quinn.

Mr McDonnell agreed, saying the past few months had been the most positive he had encountered in quite some time.

“It’s (job) the best thing that ever happened to me,” he said.

“I’m off all drugs and drink.”

Appearing suitably impressed by both Ms McDonnell’s demeanour and efforts to get his life back on track, Judge Hughes opted to strike out the case and spared the 23-year-old a criminal conviction.