A Judge has allowed a man to spend his first Christmas with his family for 15 years after he appeared in court charged with assaulting a number of Gardai.

Stephen Darby, who has 72 previous convictions, appeared at Letterkenny District Court in Co Donegal charged with a number of serious offences.

Darby, aged 45, was caught by Gardai acting suspiciously at The Beeches housing estate in Ballybofey on September 29th last.

Darby was dressed in black and was trying to force his into one of the houses.

He fled when Gardai arrived but he was caught jumping over a fence.

A vicious altercation with Gardai then began which resulted in Darby assaulting a number of Gardai.

At one stage he picked up a block and threatened to hit a Garda with it while he also told another Garda that he would kill him and burn down his house.

After being pepper-sprayed a number of times, Darby was eventually arrested and has been in custody since.

His solicitor, Mr Patsy Gallagher, said his client had been in care since he was aged 9 and was subject to horrors that no person should ever have to go through.

He ended up in Dublin and became part of a criminal gang which he then, rightly or wrongly, considered his family unit.

He ended up in prison for long stretches.

However, in recent months he reconnected with his mother.

Darby claimed that on the night in question he had taken medication and also drank lots of vodka and was trying to find his mother’s house.

Judge Paul Kelly sentenced Darby on a number of charges including the assault on Gardai as well as criminal damage to a total of four months but backdated the sentence to when Darby went into custody.

The accused man pleaded with Judge Kelly to suspend the last month of the sentence as he had not spent Christmas with his real family for 15 years.

Judge Kelly asked him whose fault that was and Darby replied that it was his own.

The Judge agreed to suspend all the sentence under the condition that Darby not be convicted of any public order offences for the next 12 months.


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