Athy garda car damage charge dismissed

Charges brought against a man for damaging a Garda patrol car in Athy last year were dismissed at Athy District Court on 12 January.

Charges brought against a man for damaging a Garda patrol car in Athy last year were dismissed at Athy District Court on 12 January.

John Phillips, 3 Lower St. Joseph’s, Athy, was charged with throwing an object at and damaging the patrol car after Gardai had been called to a party in a hotel room in the Carlton Abbey Hotel on 24 January 2011 around 3.30 am. He denied the charge.

Athy District Court was told on 12 June that between 16-20 people were in the room at the hotel and there was a lot of noise.

Garda O’Mahony, who was accompanied by a colleague, said in evidence they were asked to remove people from the room of the hotel, now closed.

He said he had recognised the defendant, John Phillips, at the door of the room but Mr. Phillips said it was not him, although he was in the area.

Shortly afterwards the Garda said he saw Mr. Phillips throw an item at the patrol car. He did not see his face, but recognised his “gait.”

He chased the defendant but did not catch him.

Garda O’Mahony said he did not go to Mr. Phillip’s home that evening – there were two Gardai on duty and they had a lot of calls to deal with, he said – but he arrested the defendant four months later.

The Gardai also sought CCTV evidence from the hotel. They said they would provide it but never did even though he followed it up a number of times with them. The new owner had no record of the CCTV footage.

Mr. Phillips gave evidence himself, saying he was attending a 21st party. I threw nothing at the car and I was not chased, he said. Regarding his gait, he said: “No one ever suggested I walk in a certain manner.”

David Gibbons, solicitor, representing Mr. Phillips, said there had to be doubt about the identification of his client, who denied the damage.

Judge Patrick Clyne said he did not doubt the evidence of Garda O’Mahony but there was clonflict of evidence and he opted to dismiss the charge.