Suspended sentence for man who bit gardai

A man who admitted biting two gardai told a court yesterday that he was originally unaware he was attacking gardai.

A man who admitted biting two gardai told a court yesterday that he was originally unaware he was attacking gardai.

Gavin Gillen said he bit one of the men during a melee when he found an arm around his neck and he bit a finger.

The second time was when he was pepper-sprayed by gardai the same night and he bit into an arm because he couldn’t breathe and there was someone on his chest.

Yesterday’s sitting of Donegal District Court was told gardai responded to an altercation in the Diamond area of the town last April 11th.

Inspector Dennis Joyce said one garda received a serious bite mark on his finger at the scene.

Another garda was left with a sore arm and his skin was broken when 25-year-old Gillen was being taken to the station. That garda was off duty for 10 days.

The inspector added that two other defendants were due in court at a later date.

Gillen told Judge Kevin Kilrane that he was attacked after verbal exchanges when he had drunk six vodkas. He was struck on the back of the head and fell and got up to walk away but he was struck another blow to the side of the head by a different person and he fell down again.

That’s when he found an arm around his neck. “I didn’t know who it was”, Gillen said. “I thought I was going to be choked. I remember being sprayed.”

At the garda station water was thrown to help him and he fell back and a garda fell on his chest but he didn’t realise who it was at the time as he continued to struggle to breathe. He “bit out” because his hands were restricted.

Gillen, with an address at Craigavon Lane, Ballymena, said he contacted Sgt Tony Cornyn at Donegal Garda station next day to extend his apologies to the two gardai.

He met one of them at an earlier hearing and repeated his apology and the garda shook his hand.

Judge Kilrane imposed a jail sentence of six months, suspended for two years, for assault causing harm on Garda Hugh McGurrin and assault on Garda Fiachra O’Hara.

The judge also ordered that €500 handed to the court as a token of compensation by Gillen be donated to a charity of the choice of the two assaulted gardai.