Garda convicted of punching two women in row over €15 fee for lift
A garda has been convicted of assault causing harm to two young women in a row over a €15 fee for a lift home.
Garda Brian Hanrahan (34) had vehemently denied before Nenagh District Court that he punched the two women in an unprovoked attack near an isolated Co Tipperary cemetery last year.
However, Judge Elizabeth MacGrath convicted the young Newcastle West-based garda of assault causing harm after considering her verdict for a week following the day-long trial.
"Having studied the evidence very carefully... the court is satisfied that Mr Hanrahan is guilty of the two charges," she said.
The judge quoted Britain's Alfred Denning when she said it would be "an appalling vista" if the three young women had lied in court, as claimed, over what happened at the cemetery that night.
She also noted that an independent witness, a security guard driving home, had seen a man holding a woman by her hair near Lisboney cemetery.The judge noted inconsistencies in Hanrahan's evidence, including his initial claim in a 999 call made from the scene that he had been confronted by six or eight people.
"I have found that Mr Hanrahan's account on the night in the 999 call was not accurate," she said.
She also noted that, in his 999 call, Hanrahan said those confronting him were "a f***ing crowd of psychopaths".
As the judge convicted him of the two assaults, Hanrahan bowed his head.
The young women who were assaulted, Aisling King and Emer Kelly, began crying.
The judge adjourned sentencing until April 27 to allow probation and psychological reports to be prepared.
"The attitude [of Mr Hanrahan] on the night... and other issues... does give rise to concern," the judge said.
She noted that the garda had survived being mugged, shot and seriously injured while on holiday in New Orleans in the US in 2015.
"A psychological report would inform the process," she added.
Daniel O'Gorman, solicitor for Hanrahan, said the convictions will have "devastating consequences" for the young garda.
Hanrahan is a married father of two, whose children are aged six months and three years old.
Ms Kelly and Ms King had sobbed while giving evidence about the assaults, which occurred when they had asked the garda for a promised €15 for a lift home.
In victim impact statements, they said they had always respected gardai but, after the assaults, they were now afraid.
"Because of that [evening] I will not drive my car on my own at night," Ms King said.
"I couldn't believe that a guard could do this to me. The gardai are meant to be there to help you," Ms Kelly said.
Hanrahan, who was off duty on the night in question, insisted he only acted in self-defence, claiming that one of the young women "launched herself" at him in a row over the lift fee.
Michelle O'Connell, for the State, said gardai became aware of an incident in Nenagh at about 4am on March 6 last.
Ms Kelly was in Nenagh with her friends Ms King and Ellen Nyhill in her new car.
Hanrahan approached the young women and agreed to pay them €15 to €20 for a lift to his home at Ballintotty, Nenagh.
None of the women knew him.
"It was a weird situation after a while. He was very rude. He said that Nenagh was full of scumbags," Ms Kelly said.
Mr Hanrahan also described Nenagh as "a sh**hole" and "a kip".
The women asked Hanrahan to get out of their car near Lisboney cemetery.
"Aisling went to drive off but I said I will ask him for the money. He pulled my hair and beat me to the ground," Ms Kelly said.
Ms King said she jumped out of the car when she realised something was happening.
"I said stop, stop, please stop. Please. But he hit me twice in the face. There was blood all over Emer's face," she added.