A DUNGARVAN man’s suitability for 200 hours of community service in lieu of a 12-month prison sentence will be assessed in a report to be brought before Waterford Circuit Court on Tuesday, October 8 next.
Garda Christine Keniry of Dungarvan Garda Station gave evidence to Judge Eugene O’Kelly in relation to a violent disorder case involving Thomas Harty, who has an address at Shandon Halting Site in Dungarvan.
Officers visited the Shandon Halting Site at 6.40am on September 27, 2017 following an incident involving Harty and two of his nephews.
One of them, a John McInerney, was “covered in blood” according to Gardaí at the scene, with Garda Keniry noting that “a chunk of his ear was missing”. However, there was no evidence that this injury had been sustained during the melee.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident (prior to which alcohol had been taken by all three), Thomas Harty had hidden beneath a nearby caravan, while his nephews had entered another mobile home.
On October 12, 2017, Harty (who was on bail at the time of the incident) made a statement at Dungarvan Garda Station in relation to the incident prior to his being charged with violent disorder.
Garda Keniry told Judge Eugene O’Kelly that the accused, a father of five, had 16 previous convictions (mostly traffic-related), including a 21-month assault causing harm charge that had been suspended for two years.
The court was told by Defending Barrister Conor Roberts that Harty had proven co-operative with Gardaí and had been “at no stage aggressive” to any officer. Not only did he say he was “glad to see the Guards” but he also apologised to Gardaí. The court was also told that Harty “may not have been the instigator of the incident”.
Since March 6, 2018, Harty had positively engaged with the Probation Service and was “doing everything that could be expected of him” while he had “also done his best to stay away from drink”. Meanwhile, his risk assessment was considered moderate.
The court was told that Harty has had a “particularly tragic and difficult life”, had suffered from long standing mental health difficulties and also had sustained issues with alcohol. Mr Roberts described his client’s acceptance of responsibility “as an admission of genuine remorse” and that of the three involved in the melee, he had proven the “best behaved”, albeit while engaging in criminal behaviour.
Judge O’Kelly described the incident as being at “the lower scale of violent disorder”. He said the circumstances outlined to the court also suggested that Harty “had been invited to go drinking by his nephews” prior to the incident.
In mitigation, the Judge cited Harty’s initial guilty plea, in addition to the “extreme deprivation and tragic circumstances of his childhood”, along with his struggle with addiction and positive engagement with the relevant services.
Taking that into account, he reduced a potential jail term from 18 months to 12 months before adjourning the case until October 8, by which time it will be determined if 200 hours of community service in lieu of a sentence would better serve Harty.