Man who grabbed garda’s pistol loses appeal against conviction

Pat Barry jailed for assault and abusive behaviour in Co Kildare


A man arrested at a Republican Sinn Féin commemoration who went on to assault a detective garda and “took a hold” of his pistol has lost an appeal against conviction.

Pat Barry (57) of St Bridget’s Terrace, Bundoran, Co Donegal pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm to Detective Garda Rory Sheriff in Naas Garda Station and to engaging in threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour at Sallins, Co Kildare on June 13th, 2010.

He was found guilty by a jury at Naas Circuit Criminal Court and sentenced to three years imprisonment with the final six months suspended by Judge Leonie Reynolds on June 11th, 2013.

Dismissing Barry’s appeal against conviction in the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice George Birmingham said whatever happened in Sallins was of no relevance to the “serious assault” which occurred in Naas Garda station.

Giving background to the case, the judge said Barry had travelled to Sallins in Co Kildare with a view to attending a Republican Sinn Féin commemoration in Bodenstown. Prior to the parade in the church yard, participants had been assembling and a number of plain clothes gardaí ­ were present.

Det Gda Rory Sheriff became conscious of Barry’s presence, the judge said. It was suggested that Barry was distributing leaflets or posters and was “gesticulating” toward gardaí­.

The detective garda approached Barry and noticed he was intoxicated, the judge said. He demanded Barry’s name and address as he thought he was entitled to.

Barry then told the detective garda to “f*** off” and called him a “Free State c***” refusing to give the name and address, the judge said.

Det Garda Sheriff then made a further demand and the evidence was that Barry gave him a name and pushed the garda in the chest, calling him a “Free State c***” and telling him to “f*** off” again.

Barry was arrested under the Public Order Act, placed in a Garda van and brought to Naas Garda station.

As he was being brought into the cell, he turned and punched Det Gda Sheriff with a closed fist into the face. In the course of the struggle, Barry put a hand inside the Det Gda’s jacked and “took a hold of the pistol”, Mr Justice Birmingham said.

Barry appealed his conviction on grounds that the detective garda’s demand for the name and address was unlawful and the jury ought to have been made aware of the circumstances surrounding his arrest.

He also submitted, through his barrister Fiona Murphy BL, that gardaí ­ failed to seek out CCTV footage of the Sallins incident where footage was available.

Whatever the evidence, the judge said, it was clear that Barry’s response to the garda’s demand provided justification for the arrest. He said the court was “completely unconvinced” that a different outcome was possible if the jury had been told that doubts were cast as to the lawfulness of the arrest.

What happened in Sallins was a minor public order matter but a “serious assault” occurred in Naas Garda station, he said.

Failure to harvest CCTV footage from Sallins did not render the trial unsatisfactory or cast any doubt as to the fairness and appropriateness of the verdict, Mr Justice Birmingham said. The footage would have had no bearing on what happened in the garda station and would have been of little relevance to what happened in Sallins as it would have been silent.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan and Mr Justice John Edwards dismissed the appeal.