herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Prisoner acted 'like an animal' - biting officers in his cell

AN INMATE in Mountjoy Prison acted "like an animal" when he bit into a prison officer's shoulder and struck two others after they caught him with drugs in his cell.

Jason Walsh (25) left a bite mark on one officer, punched another in the throat and head-butted a third in "vicious" attacks at the prison.

Dublin District Court heard he had been spotted getting €300 worth of heroin during a visit and they had come to search his cell.

Judge Anthony Halpin gave Walsh a six-month suspended sentence.

The defendant, of Coultry Grove in Ballymun, pleaded guilty to three counts of assaulting a peace officer as well possession of drugs at Mountjoy Prison on April 2, 2014.

Sergeant Maire McDevitt said the officers entered the cell after the defendant was seen on CCTV receiving contraband from someone during a visit.

When they went in, they saw him trying to conceal the contraband.

As the approached him, Walsh head-butted Officer Ciaran O'Reilly in the jaw and punched Officer David Ryan just below his throat. He bit Officer Eric Doran on the left shoulder, breaking the skin as he attempted to restrain him.

Officer Doran was off work for 11 days and Officer Ryan was off for four, but the other officer did not suffer any injury.

The court heard Walsh had a number of previous convictions for assault.

He had been serving a sentence at the time of the incident, had been released for "a substantial period" but was back in prison again with a release date in summer 2016, his solicitor Edward Bradbury said.

"It is somewhat inexcusable and he is apologetic for what happened", said Mr Bradbury.

"On the day, it was situation where things got out of control," he said.

Mr Bradbury said the defendant had a substantial drug addiction and when he was released in 2014, it "spiralled again".

He wanted to put his problems behind him and just move on.

"An attack on prison officers doing their duty is inexcusable and Mr Walsh has no way of getting away from this," Judge Halpin said.

"He ought to have submitted immediately to this but he acted like an animal in the cell. "He has problems dealing with people."

Judge Halpin said he would give the defendant the maximum sentence but suspended it for two years,

"You are unable to deal with situations where other people are confronting you," the judge said

"Hold your breath and count to 20," he continues.

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