No jail for Garda who attacked female colleagues

A probationer Garda has today been spared a criminal conviction and a possible jail sentence for attacking two female colleagues who intervened when a drunken “mess” fight got out of hand.

Michael Crowley (aged 27) who is from Blarney, Co Cork but attached to Crumlin garda station in Dublin, had pleaded guilty in June to assaulting colleagues and former house-mates, Anne Marie Hennessy and Gillian McNulty, during an off-duty incident, on February 15, 2011.

His sentencing at Dublin District Court had been deferred for an assessment to be carried out on whether he has any alcohol or anger-management problems.

Judge Bridget Reilly, who had been furnished with reports on Gda Crowley, had noted that he has expressed remorse and now has awareness and insight into his behaviour.

She had held that he would get the Probation Act if he donated €1,000 to the Pieta House suicide awareness centre, within four weeks.

Today, when the case resumed defence solicitor Richard Young furnished the court with a receipt showing the garda had donated the money. He also asked the court to consider the contents of counselling reports which showed Gda Crowley had undergone actions “to address the underlying issues”.

Judge Reilly noted that Gda Crowley had pleaded guilty and had done all that had been required of him by the court.

She applied the Probation Offenders Act, sparing him a criminal record. However, she warned the garda that this would mean there would be consequences if he ever came before the court again.

Earlier in the proceedings, Judge Reilly had said, “It has been a very harsh lesson in life which has certainly stopped him in his tracks.”

Garda Inspector Mel Smyth had said Crowley had been returning to his rented home in Lucan in Dublin, with a friend after a night out, and both were intoxicated.

“Initially they seemed to be getting on well, they started mess fighting which turned a bit serious,” Gda Inspector Smyth had told Judge Reilly.

It started to get noisy and the women came out to see what was happening.

Crowley became aggressive as Gda Hennessy took up position between him and the other man, “to prevent a serious altercation taking place”.

Crowley pushed her to the ground and Gda McNulty then stepped in.

“He grabbed her by the neck and throat area with one hand and by the hair with his right hand,” Gda Inspector Smyth had also told the court.

A witness went inside to dial 999 and the situation calmed down when gardaí arrived.

Inspector Smyth had agreed with the defence that Crowley had no prior criminal convictions and is a probationer garda. He also agreed that Crowley came from a respectable family and before joining the force had attained a certificate in mechanical engineering.

Gda Hennessy, who was knocked to the ground, sustained no injuries and Gda McNulty “suffered a loss of breath” after the attack.

The defence had said there had never been any previous incidents when he shared a house with the two women and Crowley could give no explanation as to why he turned on them. The following day, he packed his bags and moved out.

The court has also heard that a witness who had socialised with him previously had never seen him act like that before and the case could have consequences for Crowley's future in An Garda Síochána.

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