Man who attacked priest with chalice gets suspended sentence


A MAN who said “bad spirits” caused him to assault a priest has been given a suspended sentence.

Liam Farrell (56) attacked the priest in his church with a chalice before trying to gouge out the eyes of a sacristan. He also attacked a man who was sitting with his wife outside the church.

The court heard Farrell was suffering from a temporary psychiatric illness brought on by a drug used to treat Hepatitis C. He later told gardaí that after taking the drug, Interferon, he began experiencing manic depressive episodes and made two suicide attempts.

Defence counsel Niall Nolan told the court that the expert view was that Interferon was a trigger for Farrell’s condition.

Judge Martin Nolan said he accepted Farrell was suffering from a psychiatric illness at the time but warned him he will go to prison if he continues to misbehave. The judge imposed a three-year sentence suspended in full on strict conditions.

Farrell of Conquer Hill Road, Clontarf, Dublin, pleaded guilty to three counts of assault causing harm and one count of criminal damage at St Gabriel’s Church, St Gabriel’s Road, Dollymount, Dublin, on June 26th, 2011.

Garda Trevor Madden told barrister Fiona McGowan, prosecuting, that the first man Farrell attacked was a Romanian national who was sitting with his wife and child outside the church at around 9.30am. This man, Constantine Rostas, told gardaí that Farrell jumped on him and put his finger in his eye and tried to dislodge it.

Mr Rostas managed to push Farrell off but was left with a blood clot on his eye.

Farrell went into church and took a ciborium – an ornate cup used to hold wafers – and struck Fr Patrick McManus on the head with it. He chased the priest around the church before the priest escaped. Farrell then smashed glass in a church door.

He then attacked Michael Dillon, an elderly man working as a sacristan. He held Mr Dillon in a headlock and badly damaged his eyes by trying to gouge them out.

Mr Nolan said that after receiving treatment at St Vincent’s psychiatric hospital his client had gone to Fr McManus to express his deep shame and remorse and later wrote a letter of apology to Mr Dillon.