Garda to be spared assault conviction


A PROBATIONER garda will be spared a criminal conviction and a possible jail sentence for attacking two female colleagues, who intervened when a drunken “mess” fight got out of hand, if he pays €1,000 to charity.

Michael Crowley (27), who is from Blarney, Co Cork, but is attached to Crumlin Garda station in Dublin, had pleaded guilty in June to assaulting colleagues and former housemates Anne Marie Hennessy and Gillian McNulty, during an off-duty incident on February 15th, 2011.

The case had been adjourned for an assessment to be carried out on whether he has any alcohol or anger-management problems.

Yesterday at Dublin District Court, Judge Bridget Reilly said the reports showed that Crowley had expressed remorse and now has awareness and insight into his behaviour.

“It has been a very harsh lesson in life which has certainly stopped him in his tracks,” she said.

She held that he would be given the benefit of the Probation Offenders Act if he donates €1,000 to the Pieta House suicide awareness centre, within four weeks.

The case was adjourned until November 7th for finalisation, when he will be spared a criminal record if the money has been paid to the charity.

During the hearing on June 18th last, Insp Mel Smyth had said Crowley had been returning to his rented home in Lucan in Dublin, with a friend after a night out, and both were intoxicated.

“Initially they seemed to be getting on well, they started mess fighting which turned a bit serious,” Insp Smyth had told the court.

It started to get noisy and the women came out to see what was happening.

Crowley became aggressive as Garda Hennessy took up position between him and the other man, “to prevent a serious altercation taking place”.

Crowley pushed her to the ground, and Garda McNulty then stepped in.

“He grabbed her by the neck and throat area with one hand and by the hair with his right hand,” Insp Smyth had also told the court.

A witness went inside to dial 999 and the situation calmed down when other gardaí arrived.

Insp Smyth had agreed with defence solicitor Dara Robinson that Crowley had no prior criminal convictions and was a probationer garda.

He also agreed that Crowley came from a respectable family and before joining the force had attained a certificate in mechanical engineering.

Garda Hennessy, who was knocked to the ground, sustained no injuries, and Garda McNulty “suffered a loss of breath” after the attack.

Mr Robinson had said earlier that there had never been any previous incidents when he shared a house with the two women and Crowley could give no explanation as to why he turned on them.

The following day, he packed his bags and moved out, the defence lawyer had also said.

The court has heard that a witness who had socialised with him previously had never seen him act like that.

Mr Robinson had said the case could have consequences for Crowley’s future in An Garda Síochána.