A 32-year-old Rathkeale woman who “lost the run of herself” and slapped a garda in the face while he was attempting to take her brother into custody has been fined a total of €750 at Newcastle West district court.
Kathleen Hegarty of Monkshill in the town was found guilty of charges of assault and disorderly conduct arising from the incident which occurred at about 2.20am on December 22 2013.
The court heard that she was among a group of women who came out of a house in the estate as gardai were trying to arrest her brother, Richard O’Brien.
Garda Patrick Cronin gave evidence that he had received a call for assistance from gardai at the scene. When he arrived, he saw Garda Niall Murphy trying to arrest the man. As he went to assist Garda Murphy, a group of women tried to obstruct them.
“There were four gardai and a sergeant there,” he said.
After they placed the arrested man in the van, Ms Hegarty was being “very aggressive”. She kicked the garda van and refused to leave the area when ordered to do so.
Garda Cronin sat into the driver’s seat of the van and lowered the window to tell Mrs Hegarty to move away, but she continued to kick the van. She then struck him twice in the face with an open hand.
“She was in a very hysterical mood on the night with her brother being arrested,” Garda Cronin said.
He added that he didn’t think she was intoxicated.
When defence solicitor Charlie O’Connor put it to him that the slap was “not intentional”, Garda Cronin replied, “She lost the run of herself.”
He added that she was in her night clothes at the time and that all the women had come out of one house.
Garda Gerard Breen, who was also on the scene, told the court that Ms Hegarty was in a “frenzied state”. “I observed Mrs Hegarty lean in the window and hit him twice with an open hand on the right of his face.
“She lost the plot basically,” Garda Breen said.
He added that the defendant was kicking the side of the van and shouting: “You are not taking him. You are not taking him.”
Mr O’Connor said that the incident had happened outside Ms Hegarty’s home.
“This is a private O’Brien place. It is an estate that has been developed by the O’Briens,” he said.
He added that Ms Hegarty was just trying to bring her brother back into the home.
“This incident was not of her own making but unfortunately she became involved,” he added.
He pointed out that Ms Hegarty was currently in England.
Judge Mary Larkin described the defendant’s behaviour as “quite shocking”.
“I really have an issue with people making life difficult for the gardai.
“It must be absolutely horrific. There you are trying to do your job and you are subjected to something like this,” she said.
She imposed fines of €500 for assault and €250 for disorderly conduct.