herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Air Corps officer who assaulted superior has his pay reduced

court martial

An AIR Corps officer found guilty of assaulting his superior and using insulting language towards him has been sentenced to a reduction of two pay grades and a fine of 10 days' pay.

At a court martial hearing in McKee Barracks, Commandant Nile Donohoe (52) was told he had displayed "flagrant contempt" for his commanding officer and had not heeded his attempts to defuse the situation.

Commandant Donohoe, a married man with two school-going children, had achieved the top grade on the salary scale of his rank, with an income of €63,176.

He will now see a drop in income of €5,251 for the first year and €4,401 for the second year before he returns to his current pay grade, 18 months before he is due to retire, because he will not lose his entitlement to annual increments.

Lieut Col John Maloney, Cmdt Donohoe's superior officer in Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel, told the court martial hearing that Cmdt Donohoe became aggressive over the course of a pre- arranged meeting in relation to paperwork on August 10, 2007.

He proceeded to follow Lt Col Maloney through the building and into the men's restrooms where the alleged assault and verbal attack took place.

He said Cmdt Donohoe poked him in the chest and called him a "piece of sh*t", causing Lt Col Maloney to seek refuge in a toilet cubicle.

Cmdt Donohoe's superior, who has 24 years experience in the Defence Forces, claimed he would "never forget" the "unprovoked and malicious" incident.

offences

Military judge Col Michael Campion said the offences had been an "egregious breach of military discipline" and the language used by Cmdt Donohoe towards Lt Col Maloney was "grossly insulting and offensive".

Medical evidence had showed that Cmdt Donohoe did not suffer from psychiatric illness but it was clear from his history, said the judge, that it would be "intolerable" for him to return to Casement Aerodrome.

He said that Cmdt Donohoe was capable of making a significant contribution to the Defence Forces and so he was taking note of "the existence of a backdrop of difficulty" between him and some other members of the Defence Forces.

He also noted that the incident had occurred in private.

The judge said that because Cmdt Donohoe did not address the court in the pre-sentence hearing, the court had "no insight" into what had happened or his attitude now towards those offences.

"But the assault and words you used in addressing him directly were grossly insulting and offensive," he said.

A character reference from Cmdt Donohoe's current commanding officer, Col Peter Marron, described him as a conscientious officer with good leadership and management skills.

altercation

Cmdt Donohoe was found not guilty of a third charge of committing an act to the prejudice of good order and discipline during the altercation.

In a closing statement for the prosecution, Lt Col Jerry Lane said the charges levelled against Cmdt Donohoe were all the more serious due to his senior position within the Air Corps, along with the alleged victim's high rank and many years of service.

In 2010, Cmdt Donohoe became the first officer to be dismissed from the Defence Forces in more than 20 years after he was found guilty of using threatening or insulting language to a superior officer by a court martial. He allegedly called him "a little p***k".

But Cmdt Donohoe's dismissal was put on hold pending the outcome of the appeal he made to the Court Martial Appeal Court, which he successfully won in 2012 and he was reinstated to the Air Corps.

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