Grandfather injured garda during dispute, court hears

Man (64) with arthritis pleads guilty to assault causing harm and to criminal damage

Thomas Knox (64) was intoxicated when he pulled down a fence and assaulted a garda, the court heard. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

A grandfather with arthritis caused severe damage to a garda’s shoulder after he tried to pull him over a wall during a dispute with his neighbour, a court has heard.

Thomas Knox (64) was highly intoxicated when he pulled down a fence and then assaulted a garda who was called to the scene, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.

Knox, with an address in Tuscany Downs, Raheny, Dublin, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Garda Shane Buckley and to criminal damage on May 13th, 2014. He will be sentenced on March 20th next year.

Garda Sarah Connaughton told Eilis Brennan, prosecuting, that Knox's next-door neighbour, a woman of about his age, arrived home in the afternoon to find part of her back garden fence had been pulled down and placed in Knox's garden.


The court heard Knox came out and shouted: “That’s my f***ing wall and I’m going to knock it all down.”

“He was cursing at her and very abusive so she called gardaí,” Garda Connaughton said.

Damaged fence

Garda Connaughton and Garda Buckley arrived at the scene and spoke to the woman. Garda Buckley knocked on Knox’s door and spoke to him briefly. He smelled alcohol on Knox’s breath and left after Knox started verbally abusing him, the court heard.

A few minutes later, when Garda Buckley was in the back garden taking photographs of the damaged fence, Knox emerged from his house and started shouting abuse. He then grabbed Garda Buckley’s arm and tried to pull him over the shoulder-height wall.

“He had a tight hold of Garda Buckley’s arm and he felt his shoulder pop,” Ms Brennan said.

Garda Buckley shouted for help and Garda Connaughton came out and pepper-sprayed Knox in an attempt to subdue him.

He was handcuffed but refused to walk to the Garda van and had to be dragged into it, Garda Connaughton said. He has three previous convictions for drink driving.

Significant tear

Garda Buckley suffered a significant tear to his shoulder cartilage and had to undergo surgery to repair it, Ms Brennan said. He was in a lot of pain, had his arm in a sling for four weeks and had to have extensive physiotherapy.

In a victim impact report, Garda Buckley said that although he returned to work some months after the assault, he was currently on leave due to mental health issues. He said the incident was “traumatising and frightening”.

“He now feels vulnerable and is no longer confident in his abilities,” Ms Brennan said.

David Staunton, defending, said Knox worked as a taxi driver for several years before he was forced to stop working due to ill health. He suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, heart problems and depression and had been on disability benefit for the last 17 years.

Mr Staunton said Knox’s ill-health led to him developing an alcohol problem. He separated from his wife but had a new partner, as well as a son and grandchild.

Mr Staunton said Knox and his neighbour had grown up next door to each other and he had a long-standing grievance about the back-garden wall, which his father had built.

Judge Pauline Codd adjourned the matter for three months to allow Knox to work with Probation Services and to address his alcohol issues.