herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

'I lost it over lifetime of redhead taunting'

ABUSE: Gardai deny calling man 'a ginger p****"

A REDHEADED man arrested for hurling abuse at gardai claimed he flew off the handle because an officer called him "ginger" and he had suffered "a lifetime of prejudice" over the colour of his hair.

David O'Brien (25) drew the attention of gardai when he shouted insults at a novelty photographer in Temple Bar over the price of posing as a leprechaun. The 6'5" greenkeeper then walked from that row into a squad car, sparking the confrontation with the gardai.

Judge Catherine Murphy found him guilty of charges of breach of the peace and failing to give his name to gardai. She told him she would apply the Probation Act if he made a €150 contribution to charity.

O'Brien, of Turvey Woods, Donabate had denied the charges. He insisted the incident with the leprechaun photographer never happened and he only became abusive when a garda called him a "ginger p****".

Dublin District Court heard Gardai Mark Eccles and Richard Whiston were on plainclothes duty in an unmarked patrol car at Fleet Street at 9.50pm on June 4, 2010.



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They heard O'Brien shouting at the photographer. The court heard customers, mainly tourists, would put their heads into cardboard leprechaun cutouts to pose for photographs.

"The defendant was giving out over the price," Garda Eccles said. "He said to the man, 'you are a robbing b******, charging €10. He made references to the man not being Irish."

The patrol car was parked with its headlights on and O'Brien walked into it.

"I told him to be careful and he gave out to us for almost running him down," Garda Eccles said. "He said, 'would you ever go f*** off, have you nothing better to do?"

Both gardai denied that Garda Eccles had called the accused a "ginger p****".

The defendant said in evidence he was leaving Temple Bar with two friends.

He said the unmarked car bumped him and he tapped on the bonnet, jokingly saying: "watch where you're going".

He claimed Garda Eccles, without identifying himself, got out and confronted him, saying: "Shut up you ginger p****".

"I have suffered from prejudice all my life as a redhead and I flew off the handle," O'Brien said. "I have been bullied and verbally abused. I flew into a rage."

aphelan@herald.ie

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