US engineer avoids jail after drunken rampage in Cork hotel

Defendant pays over €20,000 in compensation to Clayton and donates sum to charity

An American engineer who endangered people when he flung a fire extinguisher from a fifth-floor balcony on to the lobby of a city hotel has avoided a jail term after paying compensation and giving money to charity.

Albert Santiago (54) went on a drunken rampage at the Clayton Hotel in Lapp's Quay, Cork on August 12th, 2018, causing more than €13,000 worth of damage before flinging a fire extinguisher, wooden drawers, table legs and picture frames from the fifth floor.

Santiago, from North Holdridge Avenue, Beechpark, Illinois, pleaded guilty last February to 11 counts of criminal damage, two of assault on staff, one of engaging in threatening or abusive behaviour, one of being intoxicated in a public place and one of endangerment.

Judge Sean O Donnabhain had adjourned the matter at Cork Circuit Criminal Court until today to allow Santiago compensate the hotel for the damage while he also suggested a €5,000 donation to the Cork Simon Community.


Today, the court heard that Santiago had paid €16,000 in compensation to the hotel and donated €5,000 to the Cork Simon Community while the State accepted a medical report that confirmed he had since developed a serious illness preventing travel from the US to Cork.

The judge noted Santiago had complied with all the orders that he had made and said he was willing to apply the probation act, sparing him a criminal conviction.

At the last hearing, Det Garda Cormac Crotty told Cork Circuit Criminal Court that Santiago flew into Cork on the day in question to begin work overseeing an extension at an American pharmaceutical company in Carrigtwohill the following day.

Too much to drink

He had one drink in the hotel and then went out to a bar where he consumed more. But when he returned sometime after 8pm he began abusing staff at reception and tried to grab a phone from a customer before pushing a female member of staff in the face.

He began pulling lamps and computers from the reception desk and started throwing chairs about the place, damaging a glass door. He also threw a metal bin lid at a male member of staff, hitting him in the chest but not causing him any serious injury before going up to the fifth floor.

He picked up a fire extinguisher and started swinging it by the hose, striking the walls, damaging the lift switch.

“He then threw the fire extinguisher and some wooden drawers and wooden table legs and pictures from the fifth-floor balcony down on to the lobby below. There was a lot of panic and people had to be kept in the bar for their own safety. It went on for 40 minutes,” said Det Garda Crotty.

Santiago left the hotel but gardaí arrested him a short distance away and he was brought to the Bridewell Garda station. But he was so drunk that a doctor deemed him for interview and it was the following morning before officers could question him about events.

Gardaí showed Santiago CCTV footage of his behaviour in the hotel but he told them he had no recollection of it and was apologetic as he had been staying at the Clayton for more than 13 years every time he came to Cork on business.

Det Garda Crotty agreed with defence barrister Ray Boland that Santiago had paid a huge price for his actions as he had lost his job with the US pharmaceutical for whom he had worked for some 31 years. He is now trying to set up his own business.

Santiago had been on prescribed medication at the time that he went on the rampage at the Clayton.

Mr Boland said that his client had gone drinking in a pub in Marlboro Street after leaving the hotel and he had been assaulted on the way back to the hotel and had become paranoid and was calling people “the devil” when he went berserk in the hotel.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times