Man who spat at garda saying he had Covid-19 given community service

Garda had to come off operational duties and self-isolate for 14 days after spitting incident

Adam Olden (19). Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts

Adam Olden (19). Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts


A 19-year-old man has been ordered to do 240 hours community service in place of five months in jail after he admitted spitting at a garda and telling him he had coronavirus and he hoped he would catch it too.

Adam Olden of Leamlara Close, Togher, Cork pleaded guilty at Cork District Court to assaulting a garda in the course of the garda carrying out his duty at Leamlara Close in Togher on March 29th last.

Olden also pleaded guilty to engaging in threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour likely to lead to a breach of the peace and to possession of a small amount of cannabis on the same occasion.

Sgt Kevin Joyce of Togher Garda Station told how gardaí had been called to the Olden family home in the early hours of the morning by Olden’s father following a domestic dispute with his son who was very intoxicated.

“An issue had arisen at the time between Mr Olden his parents – it had been ongoing for some time and they could not control him and on this night, Mr Olden’s father asked him to leave and called gardaí,” he said.

“A guard was escorting him from the house and walking behind him when Mr Olden turned around and spat at him, hitting him in the face and neck – he shouted a number of times he had coronavirus and he hoped he would get it.”

Sgt Joyce said the garda spat at by Olden could not get tested immediately because of the backlog of cases so he and his partner, also a garda, had to be taken off operational duties and had to self-isolate for a fortnight.

“While the guard was very upset and annoyed at what happened, he feels it was a once-off, a momentary act of madness rather than any premeditated act and he is conscious he is only 19-years-old and has damaged his reputation.”

Sgt Joyce said that he called to Olden’s house the following night and it appeared to him that Olden did not grasp the seriousness of what he had done and it took some time for seriousness of his situation to dawn on him.

Sgt Joyce confirmed to defence solicitor, Eddie Burke, that Olden, who did not have Covid-19, had no previous convictions and had never come to Garda notice before this incident or indeed since and had abided by all his bail terms.

He also agreed with Mr Burke that Olden had suffered a huge amount of negative commentary on social media as a result of his actions and it could take him some time to come to terms with the impact of that commentary.

Mr Burke said that his client was deeply apologetic for his actions and, while he wasn’t offering it as an excuse, he had been drinking since 7pm that evening until the incident at 2.45am and had consumed 18 to 20 bottles of Budweiser.

He was also conscious of the shame he had brought both on himself and his parents who were standing by him, said Mr Burke, as he reminded Judge Olann Kelleher that his client had no previous convictions and pleaded for leniency.

Judge Kelleher said it was a serious matter and Olden had subjected the garda to a harrowing and upsetting experience by spitting at him and telling him that he had coronavirus. “He caused havoc for this garda and his family,” he said.

He said it was an offence that would warrant a custodial sentence in the normal course but, given he had no previous convictions and his youth, he said he was willing to give him a community service order instead.

He sentenced him to 240 hours community service in lieu of five months in jail but warned him that if he failed to complete every single hour of the community service, he would find himself serving the five-month jail term.

Judge Kelleher also fined Olden €300 for possessing cannabis and he gave him a two-month suspended sentence for engaging in threatening and abusive behaviour towards the gardaí.