By Jessica Magee
A man who violently assaulted two gardaí at the Mater Hospital in Dublin has been sentenced to three years in prison, with the final six months suspended.
John Paul Duncan (39) of Drumcairn Avenue, Tallaght, Dublin 24 pleaded guilty to possessing €8,500 of cocaine contained in six condoms at Store Street Garda Station on January 31 last.
Duncan also admitted assaulting two gardaí who took him to the Mater hospital on the same day, after he became unwell upon swallowing cocaine.
Passing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Orla Crowe refused to suspend Duncan’s sentence in order to allow him attend residential drug treatment.
Keith Spencer BL, defending Duncan, had requested a fully-suspended sentence so that his client could take up a place in a rehabilitation centre from next week.
Judge Crowe set a headline sentence of four years for possessing cocaine, but reduced this in light of Duncan’s early plea, his remorse and his efforts at rehabilitation.
Duncan’s assaults on gardaí, described by Judge Crowe as “nasty”, were taken into account.
Garda Clodagh Doyle told a previous hearing that gardaí were called to Lott’s Café Bar on Liffey Street Lower after a man was seen wrapping up white powder underneath a table.
Duncan was arrested and brought to Store Street Garda Station, where he produced six condoms from his trousers, filled with over 122 grams of cocaine.
The cocaine had a total street value of just over €8,500, the court heard.
A few hours later, Duncan complained of being unwell and said he had swallowed cocaine earlier.
Garda Doyle and two colleagues accompanied Duncan to the Mater Hospital at around 7 pm, where he became distressed and threw himself to the floor, retching.
Duncan said he needed the toilet and was brought to a private room containing a commode.
Gardaí waiting outside heard him roaring and moving furniture around, and when they entered, Duncan took his hand, which had been inserted in his behind, and tried to put it in a female garda’s face.
Gda Doyle told Olan Callanan BL, prosecuting, that Duncan then became extremely aggressive, leapt up from a chair and headbutted her colleague.
The three gardaí sought to restrain Duncan, and he went to bite one of their legs, then bit Gda Doyle’s hands so hard that he penetrated two pairs of gloves.
Medical staff sedated Duncan, but he continued his aggressive behaviour and tried to flee until he fell asleep, continuing again when he awoke.
Duncan has 139 previous convictions in Ireland and 11 in other jurisdictions, including drug offences, assault causing harm, theft and escape from lawful custody.
He was sentenced to eight years in prison for his role in a €1.8 million cocaine haul in 2007.
Duncan escaped from Loughan House open prison in 2016 and fled to the UK, from where he was extradited in June 2017.
Mr Spencer BL, defending, said Duncan has a well-documented and long-standing drug addiction from the age of 15, progressing from cannabis to benzos, to cocaine and then to smoking crack.
Mr Spencer said his client’s entire life has been blighted by drugs, and his attempts to set up a construction company fell asunder.
Duncan took the stand and agreed that his drug use began when he suffered domestic violence as a child and turned to drugs to “block everything out”.
He told the court he has been drug-free for a couple of months and is now motivated to get clean for his fiancée, his five-year-old son and everybody.
“I’ve never been clean since I was 15. You’re talking 20 years,” he said.
“My client is doing very well in custody and has an opportunity now to address his addiction. He’s willing to throw himself into any course that the court orders,” said Mr Spencer.
Judge Crowe suspended the final six months of the sentence for 18 months, and ordered Duncan to be of good behaviour for 18 months on release and abide by the supervision of the Probation Services.
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