Oil rig engineer avoids jail for attack on garda

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By Brion Hoban

An oil rig engineer who attacked a garda responding to an assault on a taxi-driver has received a fully suspended sentence.

Graham Foran (35) punched the garda several times in the face before falling on top of him during a struggle as he resisted arrested. He then continued to punch the garda while they were on the ground.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the garda had responded to an incident where a taxi-driver had been assaulted and racially abused after picking up Foran and another man in his taxi.

The court heard that the garda sustained torn ligaments in his ankle, which has required surgery and may require further surgery in the future.

Foran of Glendowne Drive, Templeogue, pleaded guilty to assaulting a garda causing him harm and to assaulting a taxi-driver, both at Bull Alley Street, Dublin City centre, on May 22, 2015.

He has one previous conviction for a road traffic offence.

Passing sentence today, Judge Martin Nolan said it goes without saying that Foran “behaved disgracefully” by participating in the racial abuse of the taxi-driver, assaulting him and then assaulting the garda while resisting arrest.

Judge Nolan said the garda had “dreams and ambitions” which have been thwarted by the injuries he sustained.

He said he hopes the garda recovers and everything turns out well for him.

He said he can take it from the facts that Foran did not mean to injure the garda as seriously as he was injured.

He said he can take it by reason of his previous good character that this was “out of the normal” for him.

Judge Nolan sentenced Foran to two-and-a-half years imprisonment, but suspended the sentence in its entirety on strict conditions, including that within one year he collect €5,000 for transmission to the garda.

In his victim impact statement, which he read out in court, Detective Garda Alan Browne said that following the incident, he required surgery to his ankle which involved his ankle being drilled and a metal wire inserted.

He said an injury to his wrist also required a splint and injections.

Det Gda Browne said he suffers with “continual pain”, has difficulty carrying out everyday physical tasks and has been told he may need further surgery in the future.

He said he had previously worked in the reserve defence forces and had hoped to work in the garda armed response unit, but has been unable to do so due to the injuries.

Seán Rafter BL, defending, said his client works as an electrical engineer on oil rigs in the North Sea and the Indian Ocean.

He said his client drank too much on the night and submitted that his client had not set out to harm the garda.

Detective Garda Conor O’Byrne told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting, that in the early hours of the morning on the date in question, a taxi-driver picked up both Foran and another man.

The men issued conflicting directions and the driver became concerned.

Det Gda O’Byrne said the men became aggressive, the taxi-driver was racially abused and a robbery took place.

The court heard that the co-accused stands before the court accused of this robbery.

Both men assaulted the taxi-driver before leaving the car.

The taxi-driver went to a garda station and was later able to point out the two men on the same street to Det Gda Browne.

Both men attempted to throw punches at a taxi-driver and Det Gda Browne discharged his spray into the faces of both men.

Foran continued attempting to throw punches despite not being able to see and he punched the garda several times in the face when he attempted to arrest him.

During a struggle, both Foran and the garda fell to the ground and the garda sustained an injury to his left ankle.

The accused fell on top of the garda and continued to punch him while they were on the ground.

Det Gda Browne managed to handcuff Foran and both accused were arrested.

Det Gda O’Byrne told the court that he responded to a call regarding the incident and when he arrived at the scene, he heard both Foran and his co-accused “throwing” racial insults at the taxi-driver present.

The detective agreed with Mr Rafter that the injured garda had significant medical expenses and that his client has already paid €10,000 in compensation.

He agreed Foran had also paid €500 to the taxi-driver.

The detective agreed with counsel that it was “quite possible” the injury was sustained in the fall during the struggle.

He agreed Foran has not come to garda attention since.

Mr Rafter said he was instructed to apologise to the garda on behalf of his client.

He said his client has written in a letter in which he said that he is “extremely ashamed” and should never have met with his co-accused on the night.

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