15 Aug 2022

Tipperary men dressed as gardai 'as a prank' and posted videos online

Two men put on elements of a garda uniform they found in a friend’s car and posted videos of themselves wearing it online, Nenagh Court was told.

The two were also charged with traffic offences.

Adam Talbot of Benedine, Nenagh, pleaded to impersonating a garda on April 20, 2020, at Gortlandroe, Nenagh.

He also pleaded to allowing himself to be carried in a stolen vehicle on the same date.

James Kelly of 45 Árd Crúidín, Nenagh, pleaded to the same offences.

He also pleaded to the theft of a vehicle, no insurance and no driving licence on the occasion.

The court heard that the uniform belonged to a friend of the defendants and they had all been socialising together.

The court was told that on the date a car was observed by the gardaí as it turned into Carrig Rua, Gortlandroe. The car was observed mounting the footpath and was subsequently stopped by the gardaí.

Mr Talbot was a front seat passenger and Mr Kelly was in the rear. They were wearing aspects of a garda uniform.

Mr Talbot was later interviewed at Nenagh Garda station and he admitted he knew that the vehicle had been stolen. He was also interviewed about wearing aspects of a garda uniform and admitted he took a photo of himself in it and posted it online.

The court heard that the garda, along with the defendants had been drinking in a house and the garda’s car was taken without his consent.

Mr Kelly, while a passenger in the vehicle when it was stopped, was discovered on CCTV driving the car, the court heard, and that was why he faced charges of theft of the vehicle and allowing himself to be carried in a vehicle. The CCTV showed him leaving the driver’s seat and entering a shop, but when he came out of the shop he got into the rear passenger seat.

Mr Kelly was wearing an official garda stab vest, the court heard.

When Judge Elizabeth MacGrath said wearing a garda uniform was a serious matter, Sgt Michael Keating explained that the defendants and the injured party had all been drinking at a house party in Carrig Rua and the injured party had left his uniform in his car.

“He was a friend of theirs,” he told the judge.
Sgt Keating also said that €1,300 worth of damage had been caused to the vehicle, but that compensation was being divided between the two defendants before the court, and a third defendant whose case was not heard yet.

Solicitor for both defendants Johnny Spencer said that Mr Kelly was 24 years old and lived at home.
“It was a prank that went wrong,” he said.

“They were at a house party and playing practical jokes on each other and they put on the uniform. It was very silly and stupid,” he said.

He said Mr Kelly had learned a “serious lesson”.

In relation to Mr Talbot, Mr Spencer said that he was 25 years old.

“It was a silly decision to put on his friend’s uniform. He accepts it is a serious matter and that you can’t be putting on a garda uniform,” he said.

Judge MacGrath said that “prank or no prank, it was inappropriate to wear a garda’s uniform”.

She pointed out that the penalties allowed for a fine of up to €3,000 or a prison term of 12 months.

She fined Mr Talbot €200 for allowing himself to be carried in a stolen vehicle.

She fined Mr Kelly €150 for no insurance and disqualified him from driving for two years. She fined him €200 for theft of the vehicle and disqualified him from driving for one year. She took the charge of allowing himself to be carried in a stolen vehicle into account. She fined Mr Kelly €150 for having no driving licence.

She adjourned the charges of impersonating a garda until October 28 to see if both were suitable to take part in the restorative justice programme.

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