Former senator found guilty of assaulting gardaí

James Heffernan, from Co Limerick, denied ‘kung fu kicking a guard’

 Former Labour party senator James Heffernan had told Fermoy District Court he was frustrated by the decision of gardaí to remove a Miraculous Medal from his neck whilst in custody. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Ltd.

Former Labour party senator James Heffernan had told Fermoy District Court he was frustrated by the decision of gardaí to remove a Miraculous Medal from his neck whilst in custody. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Ltd.

 

A former senator has been found guilty of assaulting three gardaí after he was arrested outside the Indiependence Music Festival in Mitchelstown, Co Cork .

Fermoy District Court heard that James Heffernan (39) of Ballinlyna, Kilfinane, Co Limerick told gardaí they were “sound as trouts” after he spent a night in custody following his arrest on July 31st outside the festival.

Judge Brian Sheridan convicted Heffernan of two common assault charges and one of assault causing harm to three members of the Garda after he was arrested.

The former Labour Party senator was also found guilty of drink driving on the Limerick Road in Mitchelstown on August 1st, 2016, after his release from custody. The judge disqualified him from driving for a period of three years and fined him €500.

He was also convicted of two charges of careless driving at Coolnave, Mitchelstown on August 1st, 2016 and fined €400.

At a sitting of the court in December, Heffernan had denied that he assaulted or spat at gardaí following his arrest when he was allegedly ejected from the festival.

The qualified primary school teacher maintained that any suggestion that he was “kung fu kicking a guard in the back” was false and that he was never abusive to gardaí.

‘Social danger’

Gardaí told the court Heffernan was in an intoxicated state outside the Indiependence Music Festival venue and was seen kicking security barriers which fell on to the roadway.

Gardaí had to take him in to custody in Fermoy Garda station for his own safety as he fell on barriers knocking them to the ground and was a “social danger”.

Detective Garda Gerry Murphy said as they attempted to put Heffernan in the Garda van, he kicked Sgt Ger Quinn.

He also spat at now retired Detective Garda Jim Fitzpatrick twice. When they got to the station Heffernan was aggressive and uncooperative.

Garda Murphy said Heffernan refused to take off his shoes. When they were being taken off, he kicked Garda Trevor Sheehan in the mouth, causing it to bleed.

In his evidence at the previous hearing, Heffernan said he was frustrated by the decision of gardaí to remove a Miraculous Medal from his neck whilst in custody. However, he insisted that the mood in custody “was jovial and jocular” and they spoke about “Garda pay and conditions”.

He said his alcohol consumption consisted of whiskey and a few cans. Garda evidence had been that he reportedly told them he was after having “a whole heap of porter, whiskey and gin”.

At a hearing of the court on Friday, Judge Sheridan directed a probation report be prepared in the case. He said the evidence of the defendant was at variance to that of the gardaí and the security guard at the festival.

Heffernan will be sentenced on March 15th.