Man who was questioned over intoxication had lung condition

Man who was questioned over intoxication had lung condition

A man questioned by Gardaí over apparent drinking in a public area was actually suffering from the effects of a chronic lung illness, according to a court, and he then verbally abused Garda and resisted arrest.

Hugh Hicks had been out celebrating his 60th birthday in Bandon, Co Cork when he was approached by a garda on the town's Main Street the following morning, as he appeared wobbly on his feet.

Judge John King was told in Bandon District Court by the man's barrister that Hicks was suffering from muscle spasms caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and was not intoxicated.

The same court heard Hicks tell the Garda to "f**k off" and "mind his own f**king business" when first confronted. He refused to give the Garda his name, grew hostile, and resisted arrest.

Hicks, originally from Belfast but now residing at 34 Deerpark in Bandon, was detained and taken to the Bandon Garda station, where, according to prosecutor Sgt Paul Kelly, "he continued to be abusive to every member of An Garda Sochána he interacted with."

Michelle Corcoran, Hicks's solicitor, told the judge that her client had been walking to catch a bus when the event occurred on February 12th and that he had found it difficult to breathe while walking.

Ms Corcoran stated that one of the adverse effects of COPD was muscle spasms and that her client accepted it was "reasonable" for the garda to believe he was unsteady on his feet.

The court heard that Hicks became ill with a vomiting bug within 24 hours of the incident.

Hicks pled guilty in court to two charges: a Section 6 Public Order violation and failing to submit information to gardai, while a third public order crime was dropped.

Ms Corcoran stated that Hicks apologized for his actions and recognized that they were "unacceptable."

He had resided in Bandon for 32 years and worked full-time until 18 months ago when he was diagnosed with COPD. He also has a son. Ms Corcoran stated that he did not feel he was given the opportunity to explain his medical condition and its effects on Garda.

"He resists arrest and has to be handcuffed to go into custody - how do you explain that?" said Judge King.

Ms Corcoran stated that her client could not catch his breath at the moment, causing Judge King to remark, "He was able to say 'f**k off'." He acknowledges it."

Hicks had no prior convictions and had previously benefited from the Probation Act.

Judge King penalised him €300 with six months to pay in regard to the public order offence, taking into account the additional allegation of failing to disclose his name to Garda.