| 8.2°C Dublin

Boyfriend is cleared over chipper row with gardai

A CUSTOMER in a chipper ended up in a violent struggle with a garda after he was told to stop making remarks about "corruption" in the force, a court heard.

Anthony Burke (24) was cleared of public order charges following the incident during which he had allegedly invited a garda into the street for a fight.

Dublin District Court heard his own girlfriend, Sandra Dowling, slapped him in the face during his exchange with the officer to try to "calm them all down".

Mr Burke had been getting a takeaway following a Christening at which his girlfriend had been godmother. He was having a political discussion with her when the garda and his colleagues came in on their break.

Judge Ann Watkin said the accused had been provoking them and doing his best to cause trouble, but added that the prosecuting garda had "overstepped the mark" by approaching him and telling him to stop. She dismissed all charges against the defendant.

Mr Burke, with an address at Tom Kelly Road, Dublin 2, had pleaded not guilty to public drunkenness, breach of the peace and obstruction in the incident at nearby Charlemont Street on November 8, 2010.

Garda Christopher Jones told the court he was with other gardai from Pearse Street who went into the chipper on the night.



Tirade

He alleged that Mr Burke told his girlfriend "there's the fat c***s" as they came in.

Still speaking to his girlfriend but loudly enough for them to hear, the defendant said "they are the most corrupt f***ers in Ireland, the gardai and the Government", Garda Jones alleged.

The garda said when he approached the accused and asked him to refrain, he was told to "mind his own business".

Garda Jones claimed Mr Burke's "tirade" continued, with the garda repeatedly asking him to stop.

The garda alleged the accused took off his coat and invited him outside for a fight.

Garda Jones said the defendant had to be restrained and threatened with pepper spray before he was arrested.

The defendant maintained he was having a general, private conversation with his girlfriend and denied making any abusive comment about the gardai when they came in.

He claimed Garda Jones approached him and said: "Keep your f***ing mouth shut or you will be arrested".

Mr Burke maintained he replied by saying he was having a private conversation and the garda repeatedly called him a "little hard man".

"I said 'if you have a problem with me, sort it out'," the accused told the court. "He said 'yeah, come on, me and you'. That is when I took my coat off and said 'yeah, me and you'."

aphelan@herald.ie