Man told Gardai he hopes he dies of brain cancer

May 25, 2023

A Donegal man said he hoped a Garda died of brain cancer and claimed he ‘would do time for murder’ following his arrest.

Niall Doherty was before Buncrana District Court over an incident in Carndonagh on December 20, 2020.

Doherty, a 30-year-old of Fairview House, Burnfoot, sat with his head in his hands as details of his behaviour were relayed before Judge Éiteáin Cunningham.

Garda Ciaran McNicholas told the court that he proceeded to the Carndonagh area at 2.35am following a report.

Garda McNicholas observed a red Volkswagen Passat parked at the petrol pumps at Newpark Road with the bonnet opened and a man looking at the engine.

On approaching the vehicle, Garda McNicholas said he noticed Doherty’s eyes were bloodshot, his speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet.

After being arrested and handcuffed, Doherty began punching the window and attempted to open the door of the patrol car.

Garda McNicholas informed the court that Doherty told Gardai that he was ‘one of the biggest drug dealers in Inishowen’ and that he ‘would do time for murder’.

With Doherty continuing to be abusive, Gardai requested the assistance of the patrol van.

When he was being released from custody, Garda McNicholas said Doherty spat in his direction and told him that he hoped he ‘died from brain cancer’.

Questioned by Mr Mac Lochlainn, Garda McNicholas said the Passat was registered to another man. The engine was not running when he approached Doherty and a recovery lorry later took the vehicle to Burnfoot.

“It wasn’t a mechanically propelled vehicle at the time,” Mr Mac Lochlainn said. The solicitor challenged the custody record, which recorded that Doherty had been arrested for an offence under Section 5, rather than Section 4, of the Road Traffic Act.

Garda Sean Sweeney, a trained operator of the Evidenzer Irl machine, said Doherty told him that he wasn’t going to blow into the apparatus.

Garda Deirdre Connolly recalled how she took over as the member in charge at Buncrana Garda Station at 3.52am.

She told the court that Doherty, after refusing to give a breath sample, was ‘irritated and erratic’ while walking around the custody area.

The accused told Gardai that he was feeling unwell and short of breath. He subsequently lay down and when Gardai had to carry him back to the cell he told officers: “That’s what you guards get paid for.”

Garda Connolly said Doherty spat on the floor of the custody suite and refused to cooperate with the doctor from NowDoc who was called to assist. The doctor told Gardai that she had no concerns over Doherty’s breathing.

Mr Mac Lochlainn likened the case to a leaky bucket.

“There are so many holes in it, I don’t know where to start,” he said. Mr Mac Lochlainn said his client was not given a warning regarding his refusal to give a breath sample and said Gardai were obliged to inform him that he could not rely on a defence regarding a ‘special and substantial reason for his refusal’ to provide a breath test.

Inspector Paul Gallagher said there was no special or substantial reason indicated and further told the court that Doherty had been handcuffed ‘due to his demeanour’. Inspector Gallagher said Doherty was informed that he was being arrested for drink-driving.

Mr Mac Lochlainn also hit out at a statement from the then acting manager of the Inishowen Co-Op, regarding CCTV footage, only being taken this week.

“After two and a half years, we get a statement on the morning of Court,” he said.

Mr Mac Lochlainn said there was a ‘clear conflict’ between the arresting Garda and the custody record. “The charge is defective,” Mr Mac Lochlainn said. “He only lost the head when the handcuffs were applied. His behaviour was outrageous, but he hasn’t been charged for that.”

Judge Cunningham said she would consider the matter. Doherty was remanded on bail to appear again at Buncrana District Court on June 8.