Man who caused €66k damage to hotel to pay €5k compo or go to jail

December 7, 2018

A man who caused €66,000 or damage to a hotel while naked has been ordered to pay the hotel €5,000 compensation or face 20 months in jail.

Eamon Devlin blamed a combination of drink and prescription medication for his rampage at a Co Donegal hotel.

Devlin a marketing manager at a software company, pulled the taps off walls in his hotel bedroom at the Ballyliffin Lodge and flooded four bedrooms.

The 41-year-old had earlier arrived in the lobby of the hotel holding his son while completely naked and claimed “gypsies” had wrecked his room.

His lawyers had pleaded not guilty on his behalf claiming his consumption of the tablets with alcohol had led to a case of “involuntary intoxication.”

However, a jury found him guilty and yesterday (Fri) he appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court before Judge John Aylmer for sentence.

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.

The Ballyliffin Lodge Hotel in which the damage was caused.

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 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 during the incident in September 2016.

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.

The court heard that at the time of the incident, Devlin’s ex-wife had told him that she was planning to relocate to America with her son and he was under severe stress.

Devlin said he was now trying to get his life back together and can pay €250 a month back to the hotel for the damage of more than €66,000.

He said “I apologise to the court for what happened. I am deeply sorry and ashamed. It was totally out of character and it was meant to be a fun weekend with my son. It was irrational behaviour and it should not have happened.

“The last five years have been a nightmare for me personally. I want to be a role model for my son. This is a black mark for me. I have to live with this but I want to rebuild my life,” he said.

Passing sentence Judge Aylmer said that Devlin, of Drumintee Road, Killeavy, Newry had been a man of very good character with no previous convictions up until this and who cared for his elderly parents.

He said he had suffered a considerable amount of publicity as a result of the case and accepted that he was going through a bitter matrimonial despite during the incident.

He said he placed the offence at the upper end of the mid-range for such offences and said it merited a sentence of 18 months in prison.

However because of his previous good character as well as the apology and offer of compensation he would reduce this to 12 months in prison.

BUt he said he had decided to adjourn the case until next December, 2019 to allow Devlin to pay compensation of €5,000 to the hotel in lieu of 20 months in prison.

If the compensation is paid before December 2019 then he would suspend the jail sentence for 12 months.