Man who smashed Garda car window in Jobstown protest gets suspended sentence

Demonstrator ‘carried away’ in heat of the protest’

Dylan Collins  leaving Dublin Circuit Court. Photograph: Collins

Dylan Collins leaving Dublin Circuit Court. Photograph: Collins

 

A man who admitted throwing a rock through the rear window of a Garda car at a water charges protest in Tallaght in 2014 has been given a suspended sentence of 2½ years.

Gardaí­ accepted that Dylan Collins (22) was “actually a decent lad” who got “carried away in the heat of the protest” and had never intended to hurt anyone.

Collins, a father-of-two from Bawnlea Green in Tallaght, had previously pleaded guilty to the criminal damage of a marked Hyundai Garda car at Fortunestown Road, Jobstown, Tallaght, on November 15th, 2014.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Collins told gardaí­ on arrest that he threw the rock “because everyone else was” but that he accepted his actions were “not on”.

Passing sentence on Thursday, Judge Martin Nolan accepted Collins had remorse for what he had done and said it would be unfair to jail him. But he added that the missile had been thrown 20 metres from the moving Garda car and could have injured the gardaí inside.

The court heard the incident happened at about 4pm, 15 minutes after former tánaiste Joan Burton had left the scene, having earlier attended a local event. There were still about 100 gardaí­ in the area and an estimated 500 members of the public.

‘A decent lad’

Former community policeman Garda Darren Rooney told the court he had known Collins for 14 years through various youth and school programmes. He agreed with Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, that Collins was “a decent lad” who had “allowed himself to be carried away in the heat of this particular protest”.

Mr O’Higgins said when Collins was arrested by gardaí­ on the day, he declined an offer of a solicitor and admitted he had shown poor judgment, saying, “I shouldn’t have done it, I was wrong.”

The court heard that Collins was identified in a photograph published by a national newspaper which showed him throwing a brick through the back window of a car carrying three gardaí­.

Shortly before the incident, Ms Burton and her adviser Karen O’Connell had left a graduation ceremony at An Cosáin Education Centre, Jobstown, after protesters surrounded their car and delayed them for three hours.

After a nine-week trial last year a jury found six men, including Solidarity TD Paul Murphy, not guilty of falsely imprisoning the women. Charges against a seventh man, Ken Purcell, were dropped halfway through the trial.

In October, charges against 10 of Collins’s former co-accused were dropped by Judge Melanie Greally.

Collins has 39 previous convictions, all for road traffic offences committed subsequent to this criminal damage offence.