Ex-Garda gets suspended sentence for breaching barring order in Clonberne

A 66-YEAR-OLD former Garda received a suspended prison sentence when he was convicted of breaching a barring order which forbade him from having any contact with his former partner and their nine-year-old child. John O'Donnell, Gortgarrow, Clonberne was brought before Tuam District Court charged with breaching a baring order taken out by Glenda Burke. Judge Geoffrey Browne was told O'Donnell turned up at her home in Clonberne on May 29 last at 9.30 pm and demanded to see their daughter. She said he was abusive and aggressive towards her when she refused to get the child out of bed. The Court was told the order forbade any contact between him and his daughter. He said in evidence he only wanted to deliver a birthday card to his daughter and Glenda Burke had told him to f*** off. He said he had simply said 'the same to you' and got back in his car and left. CCTV footage taken from inside her home showed O'Donnell arriving and leaving the scene a couple of minutes later. He denied being abusive at any stage. At no stage did he step on to her property, his solicitor said.[private] Gardai from Dunmore gave evidence of discussing with O'Donnell his habit of walking his greyhounds past Ms Burke's home on a regular basis. They suggested he take an alternative route and reminded him of the need to adhere to his barring order conditions. O'Donnell told them he would walk on any public road he liked. He told Tuam Court that as an ex-Garda he knew what a barring order meant and was keeping to its conditions. In the witness box O'Donnell insisted that he was not engaging in harassment by walking past the house with his dogs. He had an arrangement with a local landowner to exercise his dogs on his land and needed to pass this way to get there. The alternative route would have added two and a half miles to his route. He insisted he had not set foot on Ms Burke's property since June 1, 2010. He also said the only reason he turned up with the birthday card, which contained €50, was because a Christmas card he sent to his daughter hadn't reached her until about March. He'd offered to leave the card on the wall of the house but Ms Burke had acted aggressively towards him and he left. In answer to question from Insp Mick O'Dwyer, O'Donnell said he was 'easy about' his relationship with Ms Burke now but she was still angry towards him. O'Donnell's solicitor argued that there was no conclusive evidence that his client had breached the barring order. In fact when it was being issued his client had asked that it be imposed for life. He just wanted to walk his dogs and had no interest in making problems for anyone. However, Judge Browne said he did not agree with this analysis. 'I'm perfectly satisfied with Ms Burke's account,' he said. He added that Mr O'Donnell was perfectly entitled to walk the roads but he added: 'Mr O'Donnell, you are 66. Do you want to go to prison. You are acting the maggot. I strongly recommend that when you pass this house in future you act modestly and keep your eyes on the ground.' Imposing a three-month prison sentence, suspended for two years on condition he enter a bond to keep the peace and abide by the terms of the barring order, the Judge said he didn't want any repeat of the incident before the Court.[/private]