An “emotionally charged” father, who promised to kill a garda child protection officer as his children were taken into care, has been given a six-month jail sentence.
The man, who is in his mid-20s, pleaded guilty to a charge under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, for threatening to kill or cause serious harm.
Cloverhill District Court heard how the man too had grown up in care, since he was a toddler. After reaching adulthood, he fell into homelessness and chronic drug addiction.
Garda Sergeant Stephen Nalty told Judge Alan Mitchell that on August 23rd, 2016, the accused was at a meeting with Tusla, the child and family agency, in an office in north Dublin. A garda attached to the local station's child protection unit was also present.
The accused threatened the garda, telling her: “I will f**king kill you”. He repeated those words, and added: “This is not a threat it’s a promise”.
She believed he was serious about it, the court was told,
The officer was at the meeting to assist Tusla with issues in relation to the accused and his family, and his children being taken into care.
Judge Mitchell was told the man had 56 prior criminal convictions for drugs, theft, knife possession, failing to appear in court and public order offences.
Pleading for leniency, defence barrister Aoife O’Halloran confirmed her client had attended the meeting with Tusla and was told his children would be taken into care.
“It was exceptionally emotionally charged,” counsel said, adding that he was unequivocally apologetic for his behaviour now. He had been using drugs and was homeless at the time.
He now knows it was in the best interest of his children to put them in protective services, the barrister said.
Outlining her client’s background, she told the court how the accused had also been taken into care when he was a two-year-old.
He was never more than a few years in the same placement, which were either care homes or in foster care.
The longest period of time in one place was three years in a foster care setting. His own father was abusive and all his siblings were also taken into the care of the State.
Counsel said that when he turned 18, he did not have a key worker or an after-care worker. “He went out on his own, at 18, and fell into the clutches of drug difficulties and found himself addicted and homeless, and he has been homeless since”.
He began smoking heroin and then moved on to injecting it, he was also using crack cocaine and tablets , the court heard.
However, he has begun taking part in an addiction treatment programme, the court was told. He cannot be named to protect the identity of his children.
Sentencing, Judge Mitchell noted the victim’s statement indicated the threat had a “serious impact” on the garda who was dealing with Tusla, which has an important statutory role.
His behaviour was extremely unacceptable, he said.
He noted the guilty plea and due to a delay in bringing the case, he reduced what would have been an eight-month sentence to six months’ imprisonment.
It was backdated to the start of July when the accused went into custody on remand.