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Jail warning for Malin Head man 17.11.11

Spat on garda after charity cycle for two slain officers

A 22-year old man spat on a garda who had just finished a 600km charity cycle in memory of two slain colleagues, an Inishowen court has heard.
Dane Stevens admitted spitting on Garda Ronan McKeever who had completed a cycle along with some 44 garda colleagues from Mizen Head to Malin Head on September 11, 2010. The event was in memory of Garda Gary McLoughlin and Garda Robbie McCallion who were killed in the line of duty in separate incidents in Co Donegal the previous year.
The court heard that Mr Stevens of Slieveban, Malin Head, got annoyed when he was refused a lift on a bus hired to transport the garda cyclists from Malin village, where they had earlier celebrated reaching their destination.
He swore at Garda Kevin Hynes before another cyclist, Garda John Garrett, witnessed the defendant spitting on Garda McKeever's back, as he embarked the bus.
Garda Inspector David Murphy told Tuesday’s sitting of Carndonagh District Court the cyclists were "met with the utmost regard" in all the towns they passed through during the week-long cycle. He said the incident was not a reflection of locals who had given the cyclists a warm welcome home. The cycle, which included a number of civilian participants, raised thousands of euro for Beaumont Hospital, Our Lady's Children's Hospital and Letterkenny General Hospital.
The defendant had previous convictions for assault and public order offences. Most recently, on November 3, last, he received 150 hours' community service in lieu of 18-months’ prison for an unprovoked assault. Defence solicitor, Frank Dorrian, said his client was being treated for alcohol addiction. He wasn't aware the cycle was in memory of two deceased gardaí and intended no disrespect. "He tells me he is a different person when he is drinking. It puts him in a difficult and dark place," said Mr Dorrian. He said his client had been alcohol-free for a month and was preparing to undertake his own charity cycle for a local cause. Mr Dorrian said his client had been "awash with money" as a plasterer during the boom, but was now unemployed.
Judge Paul Kelly said the defendant’s behaviour was "disgraceful, loutish and ignorant" to gardaí who had undertaken a "considerable effort" for charity. He imposed a two-month prison sentence, suspended for a year on a good behaviour bond of €500. He also imposed a fine of €250. "Stay out of trouble or you will find yourself in jail if you come back before me," said the judge.
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