Man to be sentenced after intervening when daughter being ‘hassled’

Accused pleaded guilty, after confronting man who had shouted at his daughter

The court heard the accused is a father of four, and has no previous convictions. File photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

The court heard the accused is a father of four, and has no previous convictions. File photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

 

A father-of-four who intervened to pull a man away from a shop where he had been “hassling” his daughter will be sentenced later.

Paul O’Neill (44) was punched and hit in the head with a belt buckle after he grabbed a man outside a shop where he had been refused entry after returning an hour after he had been shouting at O’Neill’s adult daughter who worked there.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had directed the case be summarily disposed in the District Court, but that a judge refused jurisdiction after hearing about the behaviour of the co-accused.

The court heard that the co-accused is still before the court on these matters and a trial date has been fixed for 2023.

O’Neill, of Kerlogue Road, Ringsend, pleaded guilty to affray at Tesco, Fitzwilliam Street, Ringsend, on January 18th, 2020. He has no previous convictions.

Garda Kevin Massey told Pieter Le Vert BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question, the co-accused had finished shopping when he asked the accused’s daughter Lauren O’Neill, who worked in the shop, to give him change for a €20 note.

Gda Massey said that when Ms O’Neill explained she had been instructed by her manager not to do this, the co-accused began shouting and demanding to see the manager.

The co-accused “slammed” the €20 note on the counter and said to give him cigarette papers, but Ms O’Neill refused to serve him while he was still shouting. The manager arrived and served the man himself.

As he was leaving the shop, the co-accused told Ms O’Neill and another woman working behind the till: “Yous are both ugly pigs, yous watch”.

The man then returned to the shop approximately an hour later, but was refused entry by a security guard.

O’Neill was in a pub when he was told that the co-accused had returned to the shop and decided to go there. When he arrived, O’Neill grabbed the man and pulled him away from the door, leading the man to punch him in the face and get him in a headlock.

A “scuffle” broke out, during which the co-accused took out a pen knife. He also took off his belt and struck O’Neill in the head with the buckle, injuring him.

The incident came to an end when a car containing elderly people who knew the co-accused arrived and convinced him to get in. He later returned and asked for his knife back as he had had it for 35 years.

Gda Massey agreed with Fionnuala O’Sullivan BL, defending, that there was a background to the case, with the co-accused “hassling” her client’s daughter in previous incidents. He agreed her client was not someone he expects to be in this situation again.

Ms O’Sullivan said her client is embarrassed being in this situation and is ashamed to be before the court. She said her client and his wife have four children and have had custody of two more following the deaths of family members.

Counsel asked the court to consider the totality of the evidence where her client “intervened in a misguided way because his daughter was getting hassle”.

Judge Melanie Greally said that “obviously he should not have intervened”, but that “it seems rather harsh” that O’Neill should have the consequences of a conviction.

Judge Greally said she would require him to enter a probation bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for two months and to pay a fine of €150.

She said she would impose a sentence, but defer it to an adjourned date and if the conditions of the deferral are met, she will discharge the accused under the provision of Section 100 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006.

Judge Greally imposed a sentence of four months imprisonment, but deferred the sentence with a view of discharging O’Neill if all conditions are met on May 17th, next.