“That man will kill somebody,” Judge Desmond Zaidan advised gardaí after a 34-year-old man, charged with damage at Naas Hospital, became violent at Naas District courthouse in the course of a hearing on Wednesday, October 17.
Judge Zaidan was passing sentence in the case of Mark Phelan, of Barnastook, Ring, County Waterford when Mr Phelan told the judge to “f**k off” and that he was “sick of him talking from his pulpit”.
Mr Phelan became very agitated and it took up to nine gardai to restrain him in the corridors of the court.
Mr Phelan was before the court on a charge of causing €3,632 damage to two windows at the triage department and security office in Naas Hospital A&E on August 13, 2016.
When Mr Phelan appeared, his solicitor, Cairbre Finan, said it was a “peculiar crime”.
Sgt Jim Kelly said Mr Phelan had gone to Naas A&E “looking for help”.
There was a delay and he left. He returned with a hammer and broke two windows.
Sgt Kelly said staff at the hospital had “great compassion” for Mr Phelan's plight. He had no previous convictions. “He was so mentally unwell that it just got to him.”
Sgt Kelly said Mr Phelan was very remorseful and paid for the damage.
Judge Zaidan said that only for the comments of the hospital staff he would be considering jail. He was going to fine the defendant €1,000 but Mr Finan asked if this could be made a charity donation because of his previous good record.
Sgt Kelly confirmed Mr Phelan had not come to Garda attention beforehand.
Judge Zaidan was on the point of agreeing to that, when Mr Phelan said loudly, “just put me in prison”.
He told the judge to “f**k off... sitting in his pulpit judging people... f**k off the lot of you”.
Gardai escorted an agitated Mr Phelan out of the courtroom.
Judge Zaidan then rose for a period, as loud shouting took place in the main hall of the courthouse.
After he returned, Judge Zaidan said: “So much for remorse.” Sgt Kelly said Mr Phelan had been remorseful.
The judge added, “until the switch goes off in the brain”.
At this point, Judge Zaidan addressed a number of transition year students who were present in court to witness the court proceedings. “I'm sorry you had to witness this.”
The judge added: “That man has ingested something... illegal drugs. There is no question about it. I have never seen someone so aggressive.”
Mr Phelan was remanded in custody to the following day, October 18.
Judge Zaidan later told Gardai, “something is not right. There are significant issues” and recommended that Mr Phelan should be assessed in the Central Mental Hospital.
“He flipped. He is a danger to society, never mind me.”
Judge Zaidan continued: “At the height of his problem, he will kill. That man has it in him to take human life. No doubt. For what reason, I don't know. Keep him locked up.”
Garda Inspector Oliver Henry said they would get a GP to the station. The judge said it was beyond a GP.
The following day, he jailed the defendant for 22 months — 11 for the damage and 11 for failing to appear at a court sitting.