herald

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Fan leapt in front of Mary's motorcade after Croker match

A RUGBY fan who jumped out in front of President Mary McAleese's motorcade and began shouting as she left a Croke Park rugby match has been told to make a charity contribution to avoid conviction.

Father-of-three Denis Smith (47) was found guilty of disorderly conduct over the incident that followed an Ireland versus England international at Croke Park, before the completion of the new Aviva stadium.

Gardai arrested him for obstructing their presidential escort, which he denied.

Smith, of Tallanstown, Dundalk, Co Louth, was found guilty of disorderly conduct at Clonliffe Road on November 22, 2008.

The defendant had pleaded not guilty, insisting that all he did was ask directions from gardai, including one on horseback who he alleged charged at him. Garda John Niland said in evidence that the President's motorcade was making its way along Clonliffe Road when the accused jumped out in front of it and caused the disturbance.

He was arrested when he failed to stop.

Smith accepted that he was "in the wrong place at the wrong time" but had "no malice whatsoever", his lawyer said.

The court heard the defendant was self-employed, selling and repairing lawnmowers in Dundalk. His business had suffered considerably from cross-border trade, with many of his local customers going to Northern Ireland. The court heard the defendant was married and had three young children.

"It is an extremely serious matter and I have completely accepted the account of what happened as recounted by the garda," Judge Murphy said.

"I don't accept that it was wrong place at the wrong time. "He pleaded not guilty to the matter, which means he didn't understand the enormity of the way he conducted himself on the day."

Judge Catherine Murphy said she would apply the Probation Act if the accused made a €500 donation to charity. She adjourned the case to March.

aphelan@herald.ie

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