File photo: Naas courthouse
A Kildare garda has been praised in the District Court for asking that a man who injured his finger and kept him out of work for eight months not be jailed.
Garda Marc Connolly was injured after he chased Sean Hurley, a 26-year-old former Kildare senior county footballer, at a garda checkpoint in Main Street, Johnstownbridge on October 29 2017.
Mr Hurley, from Dunfierth, Enfield, appeared before Kilcock District Court yesterday, February 5 on public order offences related to the incident including the obstruction of a garda in the course of his duty.
Mr Hurley had attempted to speak to Garda Connolly on three occasions as the garda tried to deal with a motorist.
The garda attempted to arrest him. Mr Hurley ran away and Garda Connolly chased him up the street. But as the garda tried to grab the drunk footballer, who previously played in Australia for two years, he seriously injured his finger.
This required surgery and he was out of work for eight months.
In his victim impact statement, Garda Connolly said he did not want to see Mr Hurley going to jail.
Garda Connolly said he did not believe Mr Hurley set out to hurt anyone that night.
Judge Desmond Zaidan said: “Doesn't it show the calibre and integrity of the man who was injured. If we had more people like him, society would be a better place.”
Judge Zaidan said he would have jailed Mr Hurley if Garda Connolly had not asked that he not be sent to jail.
The case has been adjourned to July to enable Mr Hurley undergo a restorative justice programme arranged through the Probation Service, which, it was suggested by his solicitor, David Powderly, could involve Mr Hurley giving talks to GAA clubs and schools on the dangers of excess alcohol.
Mr Hurley is to donate €3,000 as a gesture of remorse to Garda Connolly after Judge Zaidan urged the garda to take it.
The judge said the garda had suffered physically and mentally and only for his Christian intervention, he would be sending the defendant to jail.
Apologising on oath to the garda, Mr Hurley said that he had been an idiot on the day and he had taken steps to stop drinking alcohol.
“It is out of character for me to be aggressive. I never set out to hurt anyone,” he said. He was “mortified” by what he had done.
Mr Hurley said the incident was “unacceptable” and of “great torment” to him. The court heard Mr Hurley, a student and a full time social care worker with the Irish Society for Autism, needed hip surgery and could not play at top level any more.
During the hearing there were good character references from Brian Flanagan from Johnstownbridge GAA, and retired Garda Sergeant Finbar McCarthy and his former school principal, Michael Minogue.
Mr Flanagan said Mr Hurley had made a big improvement in the last 18 months.