A man who assaulted a local garda was sentenced to four months in prison which the judge suspended for two years following a hearing into the matter at last week’s sitting of Longford District Court.
Christopher Nevin (51), Mostrim Road, Ballymahon, Co Longford appeared before Judge Fiona Lydon charged with assaulting Garda David Conroy at Mostrim Road, Ballymahon on June 20, 2017.
He was also further charged with drink driving on the same date.
In his direct evidence to the court, Garda Conroy said that he went to Mr Nevin’s house after the defendant’s wife - Imelda Nevin - called gardaí ro say that her husband was intoxicated and abusing her in the family home.
The Garda said that when he arrived at the house he knocked on the door and Mrs Nevin answered.
“She said that Christopher had since left the house, so we chatted for about 40 minutes and then I made my way to the patrol car,” said Garda Conroy, adding that it was approximately 12:10am by that stage.
“I was walking back to the car when I heard a vehicle travelling from Ballymahon towards Edgeworthstown along the Mostrim Road; the car slowed down at Mrs Nevin's house and came to a stop outside the grass margin at the gates of the house.”
The court went on to hear that Garda Conroy made his way towards the vehicle and observed the driver “attempting” to get out of the car.
“The driver was Christopher Nevin and he had parked the vehicle on Mostrim Road - a public place,” the Garda continued.
“Mr Nevin was unsteady on his feet and stumbling but attempting to walk in a straight line; I also noticed that he appeared ruddy - his face was red and his eyes glassy.
“I greeted him and immediately detected a smell of intoxicating liquor from his breath so he was arrested on suspicion of drink driving.”
Meanwhile, the court was told that Mr Nevin became agitated and shortly after that he attacked Garda Conroy.
“As I was trying to arrest him, Mr Nevin ran at me in the chest area, he rammed me with his left shoulder pushing through me and ran into the front garden of his house; I followed him and called out at him to stop, but he shouted at me, ;f**k you tramp, I’m in me garden now and you can do nothing’,” the court was told.
“Mr Nevin continued shouting at me and told me to get out of his garden unless I had a warrant - I told him that he had already been arrested and I didn’t need a warrant.”
Judge Lydon then heard that Mr Nevin ran at Garda Conroy again and hit him in the left shoulder for the second time.
“He started running around an ornamental fountain that was in the garden and then he grabbed a rock - a broken piece of the fountain that was about the size of a sliotar - and threatened me,” the Garda continued, before pointing out that he told the defendant to put the rock down and if he didn’t do that, pepper spray would be used.
“Mr Nevin swung the rock at my head, so I took a step back and used the pepper spray on his eye area - it didn’t work because Mr Nevin came at me again with the rock.
“I used my baton then and struck him on the leg.”
The court then heard that Christopher Nevin “came at” Garda Conroy again and for the second time the Garda struck him with the baton on the leg.
This time, the court was told, the defendant fell to the ground and the local garda approached him to continue with the arrest.
“Mr Nevin started to kick out as I approached him and he struck the shin and knee areas of my leg,” Garda Conroy added.
“I took a step back and approached him from a different angle, but Mr Nevin started to box me with closed fists.
“He struck me in the chest and arm area and caused me pain; I struck him twice on the arm with the baton but he pulled his string vest over his eyes and stood up.
“He ran at me but I used the pepper spray again and Mr Nevin fell to the ground - I felt the pepper spray had finally taken effect.”
Meanwhile, Garda Conroy once again tried to arrest Mr Nevin but he kicked out at the Garda and ended up walking on all fours across the lawn.
At this point, the court heard that the Garda made his way to the patrol car and radioed for assistance.
He then returned to Mr Nevin who subsequently set his pitbull on Garda Conroy.
“I went back to Mr Nevin and he struck me on the leg,” the Garda told the court, before pointing out that the defendant then got onto his feet and started running towards the house.
“I followed him and he started shouting ‘Bull, Bull, kill, kill, get him Bull’ - the family has a pitbull type dog and when we got to the side of the house this pitbull came running towards me; I immediately retreated and returned to the patrol car.”
The court then heard that a few minutes later Mrs Nevin approached Garda Conroy and said she had the dog locked away.
She also gave the key of the backdoor to the house to the Garda and told him that he had permission to enter the home.
“She also told me to be careful because Christopher Nevin was inside the house and was in possession of an iron bar,” Garda Conroy continued.
“She said he would ‘do harm to me’; the Gardaí arrived from Longford and I entered the house with them.
“We searched the house room by room and discovered Mr Nevin locked in the bathroom; I asked him to come out so that we could deal with the matter in a peaceful manner, but he said, ‘get the f**k out of my house or I will kill you’.
“We were forced then to open the bathroom door and Mr Nevin was handcuffed and taken to Longford Garda Station.”
The court also heard that Mr Nevin’s breath test indicated a reading of 65 mg/alcohol per 100ml/breath.
Meanwhile, Mr Nevin told the court, in his direct evidence, that Garda Conroy hit him with his baton for no apparent reason.
He also told the court that he had been sitting in his sitting room, drinking cans and minding his own business when the local garda drove into his yard.
“I went out to the Guard and told him to get out of my yard; he started to push me and then he pepper sprayed me,” said Mr Nevin, before pointing out that his son has a dog called Bull and he had just happened to be “out” at the time Garda Conroy was there.
“The Guard then took out his bat and hit me across the legs with it, he hit me again and at that point I fell down.
“The dog came out barking - I didn’t let him out - he came out himself.”
Mr Nevin went on to say that he became frightened and as he made his way back into the house he decided to lock himself in the bathroom.
“Next thing,” he fumed, “I was surrounded by guards and taken to the station.
“I was asked to sign something there but I didn’t know what I was signing so I didn’t sign nothing.”
Mr Nevin also told the court that on the night of the incident him and the wife had “a bit of a row” and Mrs Nevin had left and gone to her daughter’s house.
“Garda Conroy doesn’t like the name Nevin,” he added.
“He doesn’t like any of us.
“I locked myself in the bathroom and the guards broke the window and handcuffed me - I asked them to uncuff me several times and it must have taken them 20 minutes to do that.
“Garda Conroy is telling lies, lies, lies.”
Meanwhile, the court heard that Mr Nevin made a complaint to GSOC about the night in question, but the authority had found no wrongdoing by the Gardaí.
The court was also told that the defendant had a number of previous convictions including road traffic and assault.
In mitigation, Mr Nevin’s solicitor John Quinn said his client was a family man who had experienced a lot of trouble with his son.
“Their son has caused them a lot of difficulties and I would feel that it is this that has brought Christy down the road to excess alcohol,” Mr Quinn continued.
“Alcohol is a feature in his life over the last couple of years and it is very regretful that this matter before the court happened at all; his wife Imelda has been a great support to him even though she had to make her complaint that evening.
“In fact if it were not for her that night, a lot worse could have come about.”
Judge Lydon, meanwhile, sentenced Mr Nevin to four months in prison but suspended it for two years on the grounds that he be of good behaviour and not come to garda attention in the meantime, for the assault on Garda Conroy.
The Judge also disqualified Mr Nevin for two years and fined him €350 on the drink driving charge before bringing the matter before her to a conclusion.