Limerick psychiatrist’s ‘drink was spiked’

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

No conviction: Psychiatrist Seamus O'Flaithbheartaigh had no recollection of the events of that night, the court heard. Picture: Press 22
A PSYCHIATRIST who bit two gardai and assaulted member of staff at Nancy Blake’s bar in Limerick last summer is “convinced his drink must have been spiked on the night”, Limerick District Court has heard.

A PSYCHIATRIST who bit two gardai and assaulted member of staff at Nancy Blake’s bar in Limerick last summer is “convinced his drink must have been spiked on the night”, Limerick District Court has heard.

Dr Seamus O Flaithbheartaigh, 51, with an address at Castlemara, Annacotty, pleaded guilty to the charges of assaulting two garda officers and a member of staff at around 1am on Saturday, July 7, 2012.

The court earlier heard that the married father of three was observed to be in a highly irate and agitated state, and was being restrained by a number of males at the popular Denmark Street bar.

However, his barrister Michael Collins told Judge Aeneas McCarthy that he has no recollection of the incident, except waking up in a cell. He said the nature of the offences were “an aberration” for Dr O Flaithbheartaigh, who has no previous convictions and is of “good character”. He said his client was “very apologetic” for what had happened, and presented two testimonials of his good character and professionalism to the court.

Dr O Flaithbheartaigh is employed by the HSE and is also an adjunct senior clinical lecturer attached to the University of Limerick’s graduate medical school. The court heard his “reputation amongst his peers is of a high standard” and he is someone who is “compassionate for some of the most vulnerable patients in our region.”

Professor David Meagher, professor of psychiatry and foundation chair of the graduate entry medical school in UL, said he has known him for eight years and said he’s “an excellent colleague, highly committed and energetic and a considerable asset to the team”.

Mr Collins added that the “significant coverage” of this case in the press, has been a source of embarrassment to him and his family.

Sergeant Donal Cronin told the court that when gardai approached him, he bit them both. He was charged with assaulting a male garda attached to Mayorstone garda station, assaulting a female garda during the execution of her duties, and assaulting a male staff member of the bar.

The female garda was bitten on her left hand and had to receive medical treatment. The male garda was also bitten, but his injuries were less severe, court heard. Dr O Flaithbheartaigh has also been charged with intoxication in a public place on the same 
date.

Judge McCarthy said he was taking into account the early plea, his remorse, his good character, clean criminal record, and that he is a “highly educated and professional man”.

The judge said he accepted it was an aberration from normal behaviour and that he cannot account for what happened on this particular night. He noted that he is also “making a valuable contribution to training medical school students in psychiatry in the University of Limerick.” However, he noted this incident was “far from trivial for those involved”, but any conviction would have an impact on whether he might wish to return to the United States to work again, and also his ability to practice here.

He applied the Probation Act, dismissing the charges against him, and said compensation for the injured parties would be a matter for a civil court.