A marketing manager who caused over €66,000 of damage to a Donegal hotel while in the company of his three-year-old son has been ordered to pay €5,000 compensation to avoid a custodial sentence.
Eamon Devlin destroyed his room and adjoined bathroom at the Ballyliffin Lodge Hotel after consuming a large amount of alcohol in September 2016.
Flooding damage was caused to his room and adjoining rooms in the incident which Devlin had initially blamed on a group of “gypsies”.
Devlin, with an address at 121 Drumintee Road, Killeavy, Newry, had argued during a two-day trial that his intoxication was involuntary due to his consumption of a flu tablet that caused psychosis.
The jury in the trial rejected the defence which had been supported by expert opinion and found him guilty of criminal damage.
Insurance covered damage
The sentencing hearing at Letterkenny Circuit Criminal Court heard that the cost of the damage to the hotel had been covered by insurance apart from €125.
The court heard that Devlin had gone down to reception for a bottle of wine at 11.30pm. At 5am he turned up at reception naked with his son in his arms and said there were gypsies in his room and he wanted them out.
When hotel staff went to the room there was no one there and the only damage was that a lamp had been knocked over.
At 6am there was a complaint from a neighbouring room that there had been shouting and noise coming from Devlin's room for 30 minutes.
When staff went to the room again, the door had to be forced open to gain entry. The room was flooded, the bathroom taps were broken, a mirror was smashed and the bath was overflowing.
When asked what had happened Devlin said: "They had wrecked it".
The hotel manager said Devlin had claimed “gypsies” had come and "put in the door".
Other rooms had been damaged by water coming down from the ceiling.
Devlin then told gardaí he was responsible. He blamed his behaviour on alcohol, the medication he was taking for an ear infection, and stress.
He had drunk a pint of beer, an Irish coffee and two bottles of red wine.
Defence counsel Colm Smyth (SC) said Devlin had been a fulltime carer for his father after his mother died. His father had lost his sight after being struck by a British army vehicle at the age of 21 in 1973.
His mother died in 2014 and he cared for his father until his death in 2016.
Mr Smith said the accused had been involved in a custody battle with his American ex-wife who had been attempting to take their son back to the US.
“He is very anxious not to be separated from his son,” he said.
Devlin told the court that he was deeply sorry and ashamed for what happened.
He said it had meant to be a fun weekend with his son.
“It should not have happened. The last five years have been a nightmare for me.
“I want to be a role model to my son and this is a black mark for me and something I have to live with going forward.”
Devlin had offered to pay compensation to the hotel owners.
Judge John Aylmer said Devlin faced a maximum sentence of ten years in prison.
He placed the offence in the mid-range of such offences but at the lower end. It merited two years in prison, he said.
The mitigating circumstances which reduced the sentence included his forthright admissions and his offer of compensation.
The judge said Devlin did suffer an extortionary reaction to the consumption of alcohol, albeit a large quantity.
He described the accused's behaviour as "weird" and out of character.
“This is an extraordinary aberration in the life of an otherwise law-abiding person,” he said.
Judge Aylmer said the accused deserved a second chance and adjourned the case for a year to allow Devlin to pay €5,000 in compensation to the hotel for the “undoubted trauma and inconvenience”.
If the compensation is paid the judge said he would impose a 20-month sentence to be suspended for one year.