26 Jun 2022

Longford pair jailed over ‘abhorrent’ threats to garda

Longford pair jailed over ‘abhorrent’ threats to garda

Two Longford men have been sentenced to a combined total of two and a half years behind bars for threatening to kill a garda and spitting all over the inside of two patrol cars.

David O'Leary (32) 2 St Matthews Park, Ballymahon, Co Longford and Sean Taaffe (28) 23 St Matthews Park, Ballymahon, Co Longford were sentenced to a combined total of 30 months in prison following reports of a wing mirror having been kicked off a car in the south Longford town.

Garda Keith O'Brien said upon his arrival, he found Mr O'Leary, who, the court was told had 59 previous convictions, standing in the middle of the road allegedly drunk.

He said as he approached and prepared to arrest Mr O'Leary his co-accused Mr Taaffe emerged from the bushes shouting: “Get your hands off him.”

Garda O'Brien, conscious he was on his own, radioed for assistance with Mr O'Brien, who had been handcuffed becoming increasingly aggressive as Mr Taaffe looking on from behind a wall while continuing to threaten the uniformed garda.

“He said he had a glass bottle behind his back and would smash me across the face and stab me with it,” Garda O'Brien added.

Moments later, Mr Taaffe, a man with 37 prior convictions to his name scaled the wall, causing Garda O'Brien to pepper spray the 28-year-old.

With the pair both handcuffed and in the course of awaiting for assistance to arrive, Garda O'Brien said both men began issuing further, more sinister threats to the officer against both himself and his family.

“They said they knew I where I lived and would go t my house and rape my wife and my children.

“The abuse got very personal and very dirty. I can take most things, but my kids,” he said.

It was at that juncture, Garda O'Brien said he felt the need to record the exchange on his own mobile phone safe in the knowledge if the case came to court it would be “my word against theirs.”

As Judge Hughes asked Garda O'Brien to relay a recording of the incident to the court, Mr Taaffe bowed his head in the custody suite as Mr O'Leary stared dispassionately ahead.

“Your a bad, bad man,” one of the accused could be heard telling Garda O'Brien.

“I will leave your two eye sockets outside of your head.”

In the midst of a stream of shouting, Garda O'Brien could be heard saying: “You will never make threats against my children or my wife.”

He said when assistance arrived, both men were put into separate patrol cars and transported back to Longford garda station.

Garda O'Brien told of how during the course of that journey, the duo left both cars “destoyed in spit”, resulting in them being grounded overnight until they were fumigated and cleaned.

He said Mr Taaffe, once inside Longford garda station, “unrinated all over” a cell, leading it to flow out into the station's custody area.

Garda O'Brien said in the aftermath of arresting both defendants he was also informed of a complaint from a male cyclist who alleged he had been assaulted by both men despite attempting to fight back while being kicked and punched by the pair.

In defence, solicitor for both men Brid Mimnagh described the actions of her clients as “outrageous and absolutely unacceptable”.

She said Mr O'Leary was someone who was continuing to battle a drink and drugs addiction with Mr Taaffe equally prone to the former.

She said Mr Taaffe had gone fishing on the day in question and consumed a full bottle of whiskey.

Mr O'Leary, for his part, expressed his remorse over what had occurred.

“I am ashamed of myself,” he said.

“I am very, very sorry. I was drinking. I had no intention to do anything.”

Judge Hughes said the words uttered by Mr O'Leary were little more than a token gesture to a court to what was an “abhorrent” incident for amny garda and young father to contend with.

“You have 59 previous convictions, it's time you stop saying sorry,” he told him, while also alluding to his co defendant's criminal past.

“You have learned nothing from all the times you have been in court and been in prison.”

Judge Hughes, in delivering his judgement, said he was fully supportive of the incoming rolllout of garda body cameras.

He also praised Garda O'Brien for the way he responded to and dealt with “two very serious criminals” in spite of the threats and abuse which had been levelled against both him and his family.

He duly sentenced Mr O'Brien and Mr Taaffe to four months in prison for spitting inside the rear of a garda patrol car.

Consecutive terms of four months for assaulting a cyclist and six months for threatening to kill or cause serious harm to Garda O'Brien were also handed down.

A two month consecutive prison sentence was issued to Mr Taaffe for criminal damage to the wing mirror of a car.

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