Porthall man avoids jail after punching Garda in face

April 17, 2024

A young east Donegal man who punched a garda has avoided being jailed.

Jake McNulty was given a suspended four-month prison sentence following an incident that saw him strike Garda Robert Kearney.

McNulty, a 22-year-old of Hollybush Park, Porthall, was also charged with a separate public order incident during which he became threatening to staff at Letterkenny University Hospital.

McNulty appeared before Judge Éiteáin Cunningham at Letterkenny District Court on Monday.

Garda Robert Kearney was speaking to McNulty at his home in Hollybush Park, Porthall at 7.25am on February 13, 2022.

Sergeant Maurice Doyle told the court that McNulty became ‘aggressive, threatening and dismissive’ towards Garda Kearney.

After making ‘numerous threats of assault’ on Garda Kearney, McNulty pushed him before punching him with a closed fist to the side of the face.

McNulty was subsequently arrested and taken to Letterkenny Garda Station.

Garda Kearney sustained swelling and bruising to the left-hand side of his face and temple as well as slight cuts near his left ear which drew blood.

Sergeant Doyle said Garda Kearney did not require medical attention and a victim impact statement was not tendered.

On January 29, 2021, Gardai responded to a call at 4.49pm of a male acting aggressively to staff at Letterkenny University Hospital. When gardai arrived, McNulty was still acting in an aggressive manner and he was arrested and conveyed to Letterkenny Garda Station.

Sergeant Doyle said that McNulty apologised upon being released.

Mr Frank Dorrian, solicitor for McNulty, said his client has a ‘negative attitude and outlook – a lot of it could be deemed self-inflicted’.

Mr Dorrian said McNulty had suffered from substance misuse and dependency.

“He struggles with the world in general,” Mr Dorrian said.

Mr Dorrian said McNulty has had ‘no drink or substances since Christmas – which is a landmark achievement given the lapses in the past’.

“Even today, despite the fact that he is abstinent, th2ere is a certain distracted presentation when I speak with him,” Mr Dorrian said. “He works for his grandfather, driving a forklift and loading trucks, and he is very focussed on these tasks.

“The big risk here, of course, is relapse, and the Probation Service places him as a high risk.”

Mr Dorrian said the incident where McNulty assaulted Garda Kearney was as a result of ‘unfocussed and irrational anger’.

Mr Dorrian said: “He apologised for that and he does not mean to behave like that. He tells me now that he will stay on the straight and narrow.”

The court was informed that McNulty has no previous convictions.

Judge Cunningham said the court had afforded McNulty ‘every opportunity to engage with the services to assist him’.

“It seems quite clear that he has been using substances for a long period and he hasn’t taken any positive steps to address it for whatever reasons,” Judge Cunningham said.

“The hospital should be a place for people to seek our help in safety and not be subjected to witnessing aggressive behaviour.”

For assaulting the garda, McNulty was convicted and sentenced to four months imprisonment. Judge Cunningham suspended the entirety of the sentence for 12 months.

The incident at Letterkenny University Hospital was marked as taken into consideration by Judge Cunningham.