A businessman who damaged four bedrooms in a hotel and then blamed “gypsies” has been found guilty of the attack.
Marketing manager Eamon Devlin pulled the taps off walls causing huge flood damage to Ballyliffin Lodge Hotel in Co Donegal in September, 2016.
The 41-year-old had earlier gone downstairs into the hotel lobby completely naked saying there were gypsies in his room just before he ransacked it.
He instructed his legal team to plead not guilty and blamed an over-the-counter tablet for sparking a psychosis which led to Devlin’s “bizarre behaviour.”
The defence team claimed his consumption of the tablets with alcohol had led to a case of “involuntary intoxication.”
However, a jury took an hour and 32 minutes to find Devlin guilty of causing the criminal damage.
Judge John Aylmer remanded the accused on bail but adjourned sentence until the next sitting of Letterkenny Circuit Court in December.
The two-day trial heard how Devlin booked into the hotel with his three-year-old son as he was going through a divorce and wanted to spend time with his child.
The father and son had enjoyed a day out playing pitch and putt at Ballyliffin Golf Club before having a swim and some bar food at the hotel.
He had a pint of Carlsberg, an Irish coffee and took a bottle of wine to his room.
At 11.30pm Mr Devlin ordered another bottle of wine be brought to his room.
However, in the early hours of the morning, around 5am, Mr Devlin arrived in the reception of the hotel naked carrying his son who was in his pyjamas.
He asked staff to come to his room, number 214, claiming there was ‘gypsies’ in his room and he needed to get them out.
Night porter, Seamus Henry went to the room but found nothing wrong and that there was nobody else in his room.
Around 6am, the night porter received a phonecall from room 215 complaining of shouting in the accused man’s rooms which had been going on for half an hour.
Accompanied by another staff member, Mr Henry went upstairs and noticed the corridor was flooded.
They used the master key to gain entry to room 214 but had to force the door as it was damaged.
Mr Henry said the room was under three inches of water and that sinks had been pulled off the bathroom wall and there was also broken glass everywhere.
The court was told that the water later spread to three other rooms and at one stage it appeared that the ceiling of one room almost collapsed.
Hotel manager Colm O’Kane said he was telephoned at home to tell him what had happened and he arrived a short time later.
He said that Devlin asked him “Did you see them, did you see them? The gypsies? Youse are doing a great job.”
Devlin, a marketing manager with a software company in Northern Ireland, was arrested and interviewed at Buncrana Garda station.
He blamed a combination of stress, medication and alcohol for his behaviour on the night and offered to pay compensation for the damage saying he was deeply ashamed of what had happened.
He told Gardai “I’m a big boy. If that phonecall to room service hadn’t been made I wouldn’t be here.”
He said he recalls going into the bathroom but the room went dark and he could not find a way out and believed the gypsies were in the room taking his son.
He also said he was taking tablets for an ear infection which he bought in a pharmacy in Northern Ireland and these were called Day and Night Nurse.
An expert witness introduced by the defense, Mr Michael Lyons, told the court that the tablets taken by Devlin, of 121 Drumintee Road, Kileavy, Newry, Co Down, contained an ingredient known as DXM.
He claimed that on occasion large quantities of DXM had shown to lead to psychosis.
However, state prosecutor Ms Patricia McLaughlin said the quantity of tablets containing DXM was nowhere near that given in the examples outlined by Mr Lyons.
She added “If he had never consumed this second bottle of wine this would never have happened. It has nothing to do with an over the counter medication that most of the population have taken.”
Barrister for Devlin, Mr Colm Smyth, SC said this was a very sad case but asked what evidence there was that it was intoxication that caused him to thrash the hotel room.
He said that his client displayed “a manic strength” to wreck the bathroom which could only be caused by the intake of a substance and not just drink.
“The night porter did not say he was staggering or smelling of alcohol. He said he needed to get the gypsies out of his room. This is all bizarre behaviour but at no stage did he show symptoms that he wasn’t in control of himself because of the intake of alcohol.
“The DXN in his system caused him to display this bizarre behaviour. There is no evidence that alcohol is the sole root of his problems. It was caused by involuntary intoxication.”