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22 May 2022

Longford man who impersonated garda pleads guilty to using pepper spray in 'a moment of madness'

Longford man who impersonated garda pleads guilty to using pepper spray in 'a moment of madness'

Carrick-on-Shannon Courthouse

Two men who had just arrived in Carrick-on-Shannon for a weekend stay were pepper sprayed by another man in a random attack, Carrick-on-Shannon District Court was told.

Appearing before the court on February 25 last was Anthony Barrett, 83 Ardnacassa Avenue, Longford on a plea of guilty to assault causing harm to Shane Jessup and David Moran, and possession of a can of pepper spray contrary to the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, on October 12, 2019 at Glancy’s carpark, Cortober, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Roscommon.

Sgt John O’Reilly outlined the facts of the case. He said the two men arrived in Carrick-on-Shannon at 6pm and were reversing their van at Glancy’s car park when it struck the wall causing minor damage to a tail light.

The defendant spoke to them and asked them if they had been drinking because they had hit the wall. They replied no.

The defendant told them he was a garda. One of the men got out of the van and Anthony Barrett sprayed him in the face with pepper spray. The other man sitting in the van was also sprayed with pepper spray.

They got back into the van and drove off while the defendant got into his car and also drove off.

Mr Barrett had been in Carrick-on-Shannon shopping with his wife and newborn baby and his sister-in-law. He said he had no connection to the two men.

The defendant told the court one of the men had got out of the van with a can of beer and started going to the toilet beside the van. He said he asked him to cover himself up as there were women present.

He said one of the men told him to ‘mind his own f***ing business’ and asked him what he was going to do about it.

The defendant said the pepper spray belonged to his wife and he said one of the men went to pull something from his pocket and he “lost the head” and sprayed him.

He said he only sprayed one of them and he should have just driven off. He described it as “a moment of madness.”

Mr Barrett, who just turned 22, has been married for four years and works as a security guard. He is now living in Galway.

He said he never said he was a member of An Garda Siochana.

He said he regretted the incident and had €800 in compensation in court, €400 for each victim.

The court heard he has seven previous convictions, including one for affray in 2017 at Eyre Square, Galway, when he was bound to the peace for 12 months.

Judge Sandra Murphy remarked that he said he only sprayed one of the men, however there was a guilty plea to all charges.

Defence solicitor, Michael Keane, agreed Mr Barrett’s explanation did not tally with the statements given.

Sgt O’Reilly said the incident was captured on CCTV and showed clearly what had happened. He said the defendant’s wife was not present at the time of the incident.

Judge Murphy said the victim impact statements were quite strong but the defendant didn’t appear to be fully accepting of things despite his instructions to Mr Keane.

She said he is 22 and has amassed quite an amount of charges for a young man. She also said the victims had not exaggerated what had happened to them.

Judge Murphy said she was concerned about Mr Barrett’s mitigation and described it as a justification and not a mitigation.

She said he did impersonate a police officer and that was a very serious thing to do.

The judge ordered a probation report on the defendant and put the matter back to May 17 next for sentencing.

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