Man spared jail for headbutting judge

A Dublin man, who headbutted a senior member of the judiciary and punched a security guard at the Four Courts, has received a €500 fine and a seven-month suspended sentence.

Gardaí were called to the court building on the afternoon of Sunday December 1 last and arrested a 23-year-old man in connection with an assault on Mr Justice Anthony Barr as well as security officer Laszlo Szaszi.

Judge Barr was appointed to the High Court in June last year having previously worked for six years as a senior counsel at the Morris tribunal into Garda irregularities in Co Donegal.

Guilty pleas were entered at Dublin District Court by sheet metal worker Eoin McGinn from Liscarne Gardens, in Clondalkin.

McGinn admitted unlawfully getting into Anthony Barr's car at Inns Quay.

He was also guilty of attacking the judge contrary to Section 2 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Persons Act as well as a more serious charge of assault causing harm to the security officer.

In evidence, Garda Peter Byrne told Judge Cormac Dunne that Mr Justice Barr had been pulling into the Four Court's yard when the accused approached and got into the back of his car.

The High Court judge jumped out of his car to remove the accused who “struck Mr Barr with a headbutt”.

Garda Byrne said it made contact, “but it was not sufficient force to cause injury”.

The 56-year-old security guard then intervened but he was punched on the bridge of his nose and left bleeding.

Judge Dunne heard that father-of-one McGinn had minor road traffic convictions. Defence solicitor Michael Hanahoe said his client was extremely drunk after spending the previous night out, and “he thought he was getting into a taxi”.

His client has a full-time job and a child to support, the defence lawyer said.

Judge Dunne viewed security footage of the incident and said it showed the High Court judge promptly jumping out of his car and pulling McGinn out from the back seat.

He said the CCTV evidence was consistent with McGinn's erroneous view that Barr's car was a public service vehicle. He also said there was “very strong head impact” and it was a type of attack where a perpetrator required skill to carry it out without harming themselves.

However, Judge Dunne said he was satisfied that Barr was not attacked because of his position.

The attack on the security guard who was defending the Four Courts was on a higher scale, the judge said, adding that McGinn had demonstrated amateur boxing skills.

McGinn's fine was imposed for the assault on the Mr Justice Barr while he was given the suspended sentence for the attack on Mr Szaszi. The last charge for getting into the judge's car was taken into consideration.

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