Garda Brian Hanrahan received a suspended sentence at Nenagh District Court Picture: Press 22
A LIMERICK-based garda found guilty of assaulting two women has been given a suspended sentence at Nenagh District Court.
Garda Brian Hanrahan, 34, of Ballintotty, Nenagh, who is based at Henry Steet garda station, was found guilty by Judge Elizabeth MacGrath at Nenagh Court in February of assaulting Emer Kelly and Aisling King at Lisboney, Nenagh, on March 6, 2016, causing harm.
The court had heard that a row had developed over a €15 fee that Mr Hanrahan had agreed to pay for a lift home from Nenagh following a night out socialising.
This Thursday, he was given a six month sentence suspended for 12 months for assault on Ms Kelly in own bond of €500, three months sentence suspended for 12 months for assault on Ms King. The sentences are to run concurrent.
Mr Hanrahan was also ordered to pay witness expenses and compensation totalling €1,210.
The case had been adjourned from February 2017 to allow for a court requested psychological report.
The 34-year-old garda did not speak during the court hearing, but his solicitor, Dan O’Gorman, told Judge MacGrath that Mr Hanrahan came before the court as a garda with a “string of commendations”.
“He is very popular, a great colleague and engages in charity and volunteering work as well being a good family man,” said Mr O’Gorman.
He said Mr Hanrahan was a man with two children aged three years and 10 months and and a mortgage with a large financial commitment.
He said Mr Hanrahan had a previously unblemished character and there were still a lot of people who believed in him.
“What happened does not define him or his career,” said the solicitor.
Mr O’Gorman said the questioned had to be asked why he had done what he did, and “alcohol was certainly a factor”.
The psychologist’s report had signposted an incident in 2015 when Mr Hanrahan was shot twice in New Orleans during a mugging.
“He was at the edge of his life on that occasion, but with support he fought his way back,” said Mr O’Gorman.
The solicitor said that Mr Hanrahan had been left with a “sense of heightened tension and awareness to events” because of that incident.
Mr Hanrahan hoped to return to New Orleans for the trial, said Mr O’Gorman.
“The effects of any penalty will have ramifications beyond the walls of this courthouse,” he told the judge, saying his client had been subjected to unwanted and unwarranted media attention.
“Mr Hanrahan accepts he should not have hit the ladies but I am asking for the ultimate leniency taking all into account,” said Mr O’Gorman.
He said the girls had been put through a difficult time and expenses but they would be addressed.
“My client would like the opportunity to ask you to give him the opportunity to make some sort of amends to those affected by his behaviour. He acknowledges there are victims,” said Mr O’Gorman.
He told the judge that a probation report had indicated possible further engagement with the health services.
“He continues to make progress. He is a work in progress,” said the solicitor.
He asked Judge MacGrath to take a “long period of reflection and take a longer, measured view of the fate of Mr Hanrahan. Let’s not define him by what happened that night.”
Judge MacGrath said the question of post-traumatic stress following the New Orleans incident had been addressed in the reports and the psychologist found that Mr Hanrahan did not suffer from it.
She noted that both the psychologist’s report and the probation report put Mr Hanrahan in the low risk category, but that even while undergoing the probation report he had continued to maintain his innocence and claim he acted in self-defence.
She could not ignore the fact that the assault on Ms Kelly had been a serious one and that when Ms King acted like a good Samaritan she had been assaulted.
Passing sentence, Judge MacGrath ordered Mr Hanrahan to pay Ms Kelly compensation of €510 for dental treatment and witness expenses of €500. She further ordered that he pay Ms Kelly €100 witness expenses with a further €96 to other witnesses in the case.
Recognizances were fixed in Mr Hanrahan’s own bond of €1,000 in each case.