herald

Monday 25 September 2017

Garda who kicked and hit women in row over cash for lift escapes jail

Garda Brian Hanrahan was given a suspended sentence
Garda Brian Hanrahan was given a suspended sentence

A garda who assaulted two women in a row over a lift in a car, kicking and punching one of them, has avoided jail.

Father-of-two Brian Hanrahan (33), of Ballintotty, Nenagh, Co Tipperary, was yesterday handed a six-month suspended sentence.

Hanrahan was convicted earlier this year of two offences of assault causing harm. He had denied the charges, which alleged he punched and kicked one woman and hit the other.

The assaults happened when a row broke out over payment for a lift home after a night out in Nenagh.

At a sentencing hearing yesterday, Judge Elizabeth MacGrath described the attack on Emer Kelly, who was punched in the jaw and kicked, as "a serious assault".

She said the other victim, Aisling King, had been acting as a "good Samaritan" by coming to her friend's aid, when she was slapped on the face.

Shot

The Herald revealed last year that Hanrahan was under investigation over the alleged assault.

In 2015, he was shot in the back and leg during a botched robbery at an ATM machine during a holiday in New Orleans.

He had emergency surgery before being allowed to return home and eventually back to garda duty.

Hanrahan's solicitor, Daniel O'Gorman, told the court that he was a garda with "a string of commendations" and an excellent work record, adding he was a "great colleague" and very popular.

He lived in a small community and did charity work, voluntary work and community work, the solicitor said, and had a "previously unblemished" record.

He is married with two children, aged 10 months and three, and has a mortgage.

Sentencing had been adjourned in February to allow for the preparation of probation and psychological reports.

Alcohol was "certainly a factor" in the events on the night of the offences, Mr O'Gorman said.

However, Dr Brian O'Keeffe, who carried out a psychological report, said Hanrahan had been left with a sense of "heightened tension" after the incident in New Orleans and this probably led to what occurred on the night of the offences.

"My client was a victim of an horrific, unprovoked attack where he was mugged while making his way back to a hotel, as could happen to anybody in any place in the world these days," said Mr O'Gorman.

"He was shot twice, an unarmed man on his way back to a hotel. There's no doubt he was at the edge of his life on that occasion."

The defendant was left in a "precarious situation" by this court case and it would have ramifications beyond the walls of the courtroom, the solicitor said. He had admitted that he "shouldn't have hit the lady" when speaking to Dr O'Keeffe.

Mr O'Gorman asked for "leniency" and to give Hanrahan time to pay compensation to the victims.

The court heard there were witness expenses totalling €1,206, including €510 for dental treatment needed by Ms Kelly as a result of being punched in the face.

Judge MacGrath said she had ordered a psychological report because of the serious incident suffered by Hanrahan in New Orleans and it came to her mind that he might have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

However, Dr O'Keeffe's report noted that the defendant wasn't suffering from PTSD before the assaults in Nenagh.

"The assault, in particular on Ms Kelly, was a serious assault on the night in question," the judge said.

Horrific

"Mr Hanrahan, with his background, ought to have been able to deal with that matter. These matters are deserving of a custodial sentence."

However, she decided that, in view of the matters outlined by Mr O'Gorman, and the fact Hanrahan had no previous convictions, she would suspend the prison sentences.

She imposed a six-month sentence, suspended for two years, for the assault on Ms Kelly and a concurrent three-month sentence, suspended for a year, for the assault on Ms King.

After the hearing, Ms Kelly's mother Pauline said the last 12 months had been "horrific" for the victims. She also thanked a local man, Eddie Ryan, who came on the scene when Hanrahan was assaulting Emer.

Ms King's mother Angela said: "The girls are very upset. Obviously they are never going to get over what happened to them."

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