A JUDGE has jailed a 21 year old Limerick man for six months for assault’ on a Garda sergeant who remains in constant pain and is unable to return to work two years after the incident in Kilkee.
At Kilrush Circuit Court, Judge Francis Comerford imposed a 30 month prison sentence suspending the final 24 months on apprentice mechanic, Stephen Cotter of Oakfield, Fr Russell Rd, Dooradoyle, Limerick after he pleaded guilty to the assault causing harm of Sgt Edel Burke on August 1st, 2020.
As part of her victim impact statement, mother of three, Sgt Burke stated that she has been unable to return to work due to continuing pain and trouble sleeping following the assault.
Community Policing Sgt Burke said: “I am unsure of my return to work date or what responsibilities I will have but I am not able for full confrontational duty at present..the two minute interaction with Mr Cotter should not have left me in constant pain.”
Imposing sentence, Judge Comerford said: “Even though Stephen Cotter didn’t intend to do this level of damage to Sgt Burke he did do this level of damage to Sgt Burke.”
Counsel for the State, Lorcan Connolly BL said that the incident was filmed on a mobile phone and widely circulated on social media but that Mr Cotter was not responsible for this.
Sgt Katie Carthy told the court that Sgt Burke came across the incident on widely circulated clips that appeared on TikTok and Snapchat.
In her witness statement Sgt Burke said large crowds had gathered at the Strandline in Kilkee on the night and it was challenging to police as there was alcohol consumed and a number of public order incidents had already taken place.
Sgt Carthy said that when Sgt Burke approached Mr Cotter to carry out a drugs search on Mr Cotter, he spat at her while wearing a facemask.
Sgt Burke then went to arrest Mr Cotter and he resisted shoving Sgt Burke back and she fell back with her left hand and elbow hitting the ground.
Sgt Burke said that to date she has spent €6,000 on various medical and physio bills to deal with the injury sustained from the assault.
Sgt Burke said that a MRI scan detected a partial tear of a tendon in her shoulder. She also had tendon damage to her elbow and wrist and she has undergone surgery, which left her with stifness and a scar.
She stated: “My swallow has been affected by this assault. The muscles in my throat have been damaged and I have to do a double swallow. It has affected my speech also but a consultant in Galway has told me that hopefully time will work this out.
Counsel for Mr Cotter, Pat Whyms BL stated that Mr Cotter had no drugs on him on the night “and his purpose was to get away and not a deliberate attack to knock the Garda on the ground”.
Mr Whyms said: “What should have been a minor matter was escalated by Mr Cotter to a significant issue. Mr Cotter’s judgment was seriously impaired.
Mr Whyms said that Mr Cotter was able to offer €2,000 to Sgt Burke but Judge Comerford didn’t order that the money be paid over.
The court was told that Mr Cotter has a previous assault conviction and two for drugs possession.