Suspended sentence for attack on fire brigade
A man who threw bottles at Sligo Fire Brigade as his caravan went up in flames has received a five month suspended prison sentence.
Denis McGinley, of Connaughton Road Car Park, only avoided going to prison because he brought ¤2,000 in compensation to court last week.
He had previously pleaded guilty to assaulting Fire Officer Martin McCaffrey and to engaging in threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour on September 1st 2016.
He had already paid ¤1,200 for the damage he caused to two fire tenders and a criminal damage charge was struck out as a result.
Inspector Paul Kilcoyne told the court last week that firefighters came under “a barrage of missiles”, including a beer bottle thrown at a Fire Engine.
It smashed a window and shards of glass were sent flying into the cabin, causing Officer McCaffrey to be hospitalised to get his eye washed out as a precaution.
McGinley, represented by Mr Pat O’Sullivan BL, expressed his regret for what happened.
Mr O’Sullivan described it as an “incident of madness”: “He does accept he has a problem when he consumes alcohol. It makes it a medical issue as well as a legal issue,” he argued.
“Most people who get ‘plain drunk’ don’t throw bottles of beer at people,” he added.
However Judge Kilrane said that if he was using a medical condition of alcoholism as a defence, he had to proffer evidence of this.
Mr O’Sullivan had no medical evidence. Judge Kilrane said he’d accept that McGinley was “just drunk”.
Mr O’Sullivan said the defendant was very anxious about his caravan going on fire and thought his wife and daughter were in the caravan “which caused him to behave in an unforgivable manner.”
“He realises it was a pointless exercise. He has today handed in ¤2,000 to the driver of the tender and paid for the damage to the fire tender,” he told Judge Kilrane.
He said McGinley had to pay for a new caravan, had eight young children and lived in impoverished conditions.
He said that after all the money McGinley had to pay out, he calculated each bottle of beer he drank that night cost him ¤400.
“He’d nearly drunk enough beer to put the fire out on his own,” said the judge.
“I was told the reason he attacked the Fire Engine was that he thought they were late in coming,” he told Mr O’Sullivan.
He handed down a five month prison sentence on McGinley for the assault, suspended for two years, on condition he’s not convicted of any indictable offence or assault offence or Public Order offence during this period.
“But for the fact that he had ¤2,000 I would impose a prison sentence,” he said.