Thurles District Court
A Thurles man found with a knuckle duster in his coat pocket claimed it was part of a jewellery box at a sitting of Thurles District Court.
Garda Robert O’Donovan was on patrol in Church View, Bohernanave, Thurles, on August 17, 2020, when he observed Oliver Moran walking from Church View. Mr Moran, of 4 Semple Villas, Bohernanave, Thurles, started to bang on a door, but got no response.
There had been a serious assault causing harm at that address the night before, and Mr Moran “appeared to be agitated and nervous,” said Garda O’Donovan. The person injured in the assault had to be hospitalised.
Mr Moran was searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act, and a silver knuckle duster was located in the front left hand pocket of his leather jacket. Mr Moran was cautioned and he made no reply.
Mr Moran was interviewed in a garda station, where he claimed he didn’t know why the item was there. Garda O’Donovan showed the item to the Court in an evidence bag, and said he believed it could “potentially cause serious harm.”
Inspector James White said Mr Moran could give no reasonable explanation as to why the item was on him in a public place. “It is a hand tool intended to wear during an altercation to increase or maximise the injury to the other person,” said Insp White.
Mr Moran was charged with having, in a public place, a knuckle duster intended to unlawfully incapacitate or intimidate, or cause injury to a person.
Solicitor Patrick Cadell said Mr Moran claimed it was part of a jewellery box. In Court, Mr Moran said he was stopped by two gardaí. Mr Moran said he was going to meet the man who was beaten the night before. “I was going to see if he was ok. All of a sudden, the gardaí searched me. I hadn’t a clue it was in my pocket,” he told Judge Elizabeth MacGrath.
“I had no intention of using it. It was from my daughter’s jewellery box. It won’t fit my hand, if you have small fingers,” said Mr Moran. Inspector White put it to Mr Moran that in his statement to gardaí, he said it was his son’s. “Now you’re saying it’s your daughter’s?”
“I was highly intoxicated,” said Mr Moran. “I was arrested without caution.” Mr Moran said he didn’t know it was an offence to carry the item in public.
Inspector White said Mr Moran knew this case was before the Courts and had the opportunity to bring the jewellery box to Court “and see if it fits.” Inspector White put it to Mr Moran that the jewellery box does not exist.
Judge MacGrath adjourned the case so Mr Moran could produce the jewellery box as evidence. The legislation provides for a defence of a “reasonable explanation,” said Judge MacGrath.
At a subsequent hearing, Judge MacGrath said Mr Moran was not able to confirm this explanation, and found the facts proven against him.
Sgt Thomas Hanrahan said Mr Moran has 127 previous convictions, including 20 for public order matters, 78 road traffic offences, eight thefts, and offences for burglary, assault causing harm, failing to appear in Court, and possession of a knife.
Mr Moran was subject to a two-year suspended jail sentence, imposed in 2018, at the time of the Thurles offence. Judge MacGrath imposed a four-month prison sentence on Mr Moran, suspended for two years on condition he enter into a Section 99 bond of €250. The issue of the suspended jail sentence from 2018 was adjourned to April 5.
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