Suspended sentence for man who made slashing gesture after throwing chocolates

January 11, 2019

A Donegal man has been given a three-month suspended sentence after an incident in which he threw a box of chocolates at his sister and launched a tirade of abuse at Gardai.

Judge Paul Kelly imposed the three-month sentence, suspended for 12 months, Patrick McLaughlin, who entered into a bond not to be convicted of any other offence in that period.

McLaughlin, due to bail conditions on other charges, is not permitted to the family home at Meenacuing, Dunlewey.

Leterkenny District Court heard that, on 27 December, 2018, McLaughlin entered the family home, followed his sister into the kitchen and ‘threw a box of chocolates with force’,

“He went for her and was stopped by another sister,” Sergeant Paul McGee told the court.

McLaughlin drew a slashing motion across his face and said he would ‘open’ her.

Hs sister was said to be ‘threatened and afraid’.

A short time later, McLaughlin was arrested after members of the public reported a man in dark clothing walking in the middle of the road.

When apprehended by Sergeant McGee, McLaughlin became aggressive. He demanded that he be taken to Letterkenny and told the Sergeant that he would be ‘in trouble’ if he refused.

A number of motorists were forced to stop as Sergeant McGee apprehended McLaughlin, who was said to be ‘unsteady on his feet’ and put him into the patrol van.

McLaughlin shouted at Sergeant McGee as he was being arrested: ‘You f****** w*****, you c****, I will get you’.

McLaughlin has 34 previous convictions and previously served a three-year prison sentence for assault causing harm.

Solicitor for McLaughlin, Cormac Hartnett, said his client had suffered ‘significant cognitive impairment’ following a life-changing assault that resulted in acquired brain injuries.

“He is vulnerable himself,” Mr Hartnett said.

“He is capable of independent living, but is assisted by the HSE. He has, over the last number of years, a history that when he consumes alcohol, he becomes vulnerable and somewhat hostile.”

Mr Hartnett said the incident was ‘borne out of alcohol. He said: “He has a problem. Part of it is outside of his control and part of it is in his control.”

Mr McLaughlin, the Court heard, was a ‘very reasonable and earnest man’.

Judge Paul Kelly was told that McLaughlin was, due to a bail condition from another charge, to stay away from the Gweedore area, which posed difficulty in terms of finding somewhere for McLaughlin to stay.

Sergeant McGee said Gardai had approved an address in Letterkenny for McLaughlin, who had been in custody since the incident, to reside in the short-term.