ONE of Limerick’s most senior garda officers fractured two fingers in his left hand when he was struck with a wine bottle by a young girl who had earlier attempted to break into his home in County Limerick.
Det Supt Jim Browne, who is attached to Henry Street garda station in the city, was injured as he and his daughter, Garda Niamh Browne, tried to apprehend the culprits during the early hours of February 4, last.
Owen Bailey, aged 19, of Rossa Avenue, Mulgrave Street, Limerick; Jason Curtin, aged 20, of Spitland Old Cork Road, Limerick; Lisa O’Callaghan, aged 21, of Keane Street, Kilalee and a 16-year-old girl, who can’t be named each pleaded guilty to multiple offences relating to what was described as a drink and drug-fuelled rampage which lasted for several hours.
During a sentencing hearing, Det Garda Michael Reidy, Bruff, said the attempted break-in at Det Supt Browne’s house and the subsequent assault were one of a number of offences committed on the night.
Between them, the defendants pleaded guilty to a total of 26 charges.
Det Garda Reidy said at 12.55am the culprits took Ms O’Callaghan’s father’s car from outside her home without his permission.
From there, they travelled to County Limerick where they broke into several houses.
During one incident, the home of an elderly widow who lives in the Meanus area was ransacked by the defendants who stole a box of Wolf Blass wine.
The court was told that Garda Browne, who lives with her parents in South East Limerick was watching television at around 4.30am when she saw a sensor light being activated outside the house.
“She heard a clink and when she went to investigate further she observed a man at the front door with a grey hoody over his head,” said Michael Collins BL, prosecuting.
The youth then retreated to the stolen red Seat Cordoba car which sped off from the driveway of the house.
Garda Browne and her father then pursued the vehicle which they located crashed at Clonbrien, Bruree.
Det Garda Reidy said the driver of the car - Owen Bailey - escaped by running across fields and that Det Supt Browne and his daughter attempted to arrest the other three culprits who were still in the stolen car.
However, all three resisted and Det Garda Reidy said a “violent struggle ensued as the defendants attempted to escape”.
Garda Browne was punched and kicked in the head face and upper body during the struggle and Det Supt Browne sustained injuries to his left hand when he was hit with a wine bottle by the 16-year-old girl.
Judge Carroll Moran was told that Det Supt Browne and his daughter were fearful for their lives and were forced to retreat to a nearby house until assistance arrived.
The youths who escaped on foot broke into a house at the Paddocks, Bruree sometime later where they stole the keys to two Mercedes cars which were parked outside.
One of the cars - a silver E200 model - was subsequently found crashed in the Bruree area while the second - a C180 model was crashed at the M20 slip-road near Patrickswell.
Det Garda Reidy said a major garda operation was launched to locate the culprits who were observed at the Old Railway centre in Patrickswell at around 7.30am.
When the youths saw the gardai approaching they attempted to escape along the old railway tracks.
Again they violently resisted arrest and Pepper Spray had to be used by gardai to subdue Bailey and Curtin.
Garda Brian Delee sustained a broken Metacarpal bone in his right hand when he knocked to the ground by Curtin during the struggle.
Det Garda Reidy told Mr Collins that all four defendants made admissions following their arrest in relation to their respective roles in the different offences.
He said neither Det Supt Browne or his daughter wished to participate in the sentencing process.
However, the occupants of the houses which were broken into said they no longer feel secure in their homes and that they struggle to sleep at night out of fear.
Lawyers representing each of the defendants said their clients had cooperated with gardai and had entered early guilty pleas - saving the state considerable time and money.
Judge Moran was told that O’Callaghan and the 16-year-old had “cut all ties” with their co-accused and that both are in employment.
Bailey, who has 54 previous convictions, and Curtin, who has 85, were both on bail at the time in relation to separate offences.
Imposing sentence, the judge said the accumulation of offences was a major aggravating factor as was the degree of violence shown towards gardai on the night.
He sentenced Bailey and Curtin to four years imprisonment with the final year suspended.
Both were also disqualified from driving for eight years.
He adjourned the case of Ms O’Callaghan for 12 months and he requested an up-to-date probation report in relation to the 16-year by February 1, next.