A 21-YEAR-OLD man described by a Garda inspector as “nothing but a nuisance to communities in Limerick” has been jailed for four months after admitting a long list of criminal damage and public order offences.
Gary Benn, of Sullane Crescent in Raheen, was charged with intoxication in a public place and threatening and abusive behaviour at St Nessan’s Road, Dooradoyle on June 19, 2011.
He had run away from a patrol car on duty at around 2.30am and was pursued by Garda Niamh O’Malley. Inspector Seamus Ruane told Limerick District Court that Benn had been “very aggressive” and resisted arrest, dragging Garda O’Malley to the ground.
Benn had been seen walking near the Mid-Western Regional Hospital with a sledgehammer in his hand on December 21 last. He threw the article over a wall when gardai arrived and “could offer no explanation” to gardai why he was walking around with it at four in the morning.
Benn further admitted to causing criminal damage to four cars in three separate incidents in Dooradoyle and Raheen between October 2011 and March 2012.
Insp Ruane outlined that the accused had amassed 48 prior convictions and was sentenced to 10 months in prison at Limerick District Court in late 2010, a term which was suspended for 18 months.
Solicitor Chris Lynch said his client’s record showed “a predominance of public order” which was rooted in alcohol problems that began at the age of 16. Various past attempts to “break the cycle” had failed, Mr Lynch said, but since going on a programme with the Anna Liffey Project in March, he had not touched a single drink. And the birth of Mr Benn’s first child in the last four weeks had also had “a sobering effect”.
Judge Eugene O’Kelly noted that Benn was facing public order charges in Galway in relation to an incident in June of this year which seemed “inconsistent” with his new-found sobriety.
This had been a sole lapse that occurred during a stag party, Mr Lynch replied. “When he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t get into trouble. When he drinks, he is in trouble all the time,” he explained.
Insp Ruane said having been “given a chance by this court and everybody else”, Benn had gone on to commit further offences, including pulling Garda O’Malley to the ground while a suspended sentence was hanging over him.
“It’s fair to say he has been nothing but a nuisance to communities in Limerick,” the inspector added.
Judge O’Kelly said he was not inclined to activate the suspended 10-month sentence but added Benn was not getting “away scot-free”.
The public order offences on June 19 were part of “an incident that could have turned out ugly for Garda O’Malley if she had been injured”.
“Dragging a garda to the ground while on a suspended sentence is just unacceptable,” said Judge O’Kelly, imposing a sentence of 10 months in prison which he suspended for two years.
He imposed seven four-month sentences for Benn’s various criminal damage and other offences, the terms to served concurrently.