A man who punched a priest during Mass has escaped a jail sentence.

Pensioner Seamus Doherty, 66, attacked Fr Michael McKeever at St Colmcille’s church in Glendowan, Churchill.

Doherty had constantly tried to interrupt Mass which was being conducted by Fr.McKeever on January 15th, 2011.

He was roaring and shouting abuse during the ceremony as he held a bottle of alcohol.

At one stage he claimed the clergy were responsible for the suicide of a young man in the area.

He was drunk and refused to leave when approached by a number of mass-goers.

When Fr McKeever went down to the congregation to finally ask Doherty to leave, he was punched in the forehead.

Doherty appeared in court in January and Judge Paul Kelly warned he was considering taking the accused “off the street.”

“I have heard this man has problems. It may well be better that he is taken off the streets to address these,” said Judge Kelly.

Doherty, of The Rock, Churchill, appeared at Letterkenny District Court today, Thursday,  for sentence in relation to the assault.

Judge Paul Kelly viewed a probation report which included recommendations from a psychiatrist.

Solicitor Frank Dorrian said his client would probably be unable to do any community service work and the psychiatrist agreed that he would be best served being supervised.

Judge Kelly agreed and ordered Doherty to comply with the Probation Services and Co Donegal Mental Health Services for 12 months.

He also fined him a total of €300 for other offences including being drunk in a public place and obstructing traffic.




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