Man jailed over 15-strong boxing session in woods despite restrictions

Judge says such breaches of Covid-19 rules allow pandemic to continue

Ned Doherty, outside Ennis Court, was given a  one-month prison term  for a public order breach

Ned Doherty, outside Ennis Court, was given a one-month prison term for a public order breach

 

A judge has said a Co Clare man’s participation in a 15-man boxing training session in woods near his home contributed to the spread of coronavirus.

Imposing a one-month prison term on Ned Doherty (30) for a public order breach, Judge Patrick Durcan said his actions were not fair to older people who are living in fear of the virus “and who have not left their houses in the last 12 months”.

At Ennis District Court on Wednesday, the judge said the actions of the married father of four were also not fair to the medical services, particularly “while this country is on its knees economically while dealing with the public health emergency”.

The judge said: “Fifteen guys boxing training in the woods is how the virus spreads because they can’t be in the one bubble.”

He said the facts of the case are “appalling” and someone who shows such disregard for others “must take an appropriate punishment”.

The judge imposed a one-month prison term after Doherty, of St Michael’s Park, Ballymaley, Ennis, pleaded guilty to a public order offence at Dromore Wood on May 23rd.

A second charge concerning an alleged breach of coronavirus regulations was struck out.

Sgt Aiden Lonergan told the court that gardaí found 15 men in the woods and garda Joe Kearney outlined to them the health restrictions that were in force at the time.

‘Hatchet face’

He said Doherty replied that “he didn’t have time for this and was losing his sweat” and began sparring with another man.

Sgt Lonergan said Doherty then asked Garda Kearney for a fight and called him “hatchet face” before he was brought away by members of his family.

The judge said the way Doherty interacted with Garda Kearney was “a hugely aggravating factor”.

Defence solicitor Daragh Hassett said his client had arranged with a small number of friends to go sparring in compliance with coronavirus health regulations as Dromore Wood is 5km from his home.

However, Mr Hassett said, word got out and more people came along to the woods.

He said Doherty has struggled with the coronavirus restrictions “and was out in the open air amongst the trees working out”. He added that his client has a short fuse but there is no excuse for what he said to Garda Kearney and he has since apologised.

He said his client has no previous convictions apart from a few minor road traffic matters.

Doherty was later freed on bail pending the outcome of an appeal against the sentence.