A Thurles man found with brass knuckles in his coat pocket claimed it was part of a jewelry box during a Thurles District Court hearing.
Garda Robert O’Donovan was on patrol at 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 knocking on a door but got no response.
There had been a major assault causing damage to that address the previous night, and Mr Moran “appeared agitated and nervous”, Garda O’Donovan said. The person injured in the attack had to be hospitalized.
Mr Moran was searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act and a silver feather duster was found in the left front pocket of his leather jacket. Mr. Moran was notified and did not respond.
Mr Moran was questioned at a guardhouse, where he claimed he did not know why the object was there. Garda O’Donovan showed the object 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 object was on him in a public place. “It is a hand tool intended to be carried during an altercation to augment or maximize the injuries to the other person,” Inspector White said.
Mr. Moran was accused of using brass knuckles in a public place to incapacitate or unlawfully intimidate or injure a person.
Solicitor Patrick Cadell said Mr Moran claimed it was part of a jewelry box. In court, Mr Moran said he was arrested 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 okay. All of a sudden, the gardaí searched me. I had no idea it was in my pocket,” he told Judge Elizabeth MacGrath.
“I had no intention of using it. It came from my daughter’s jewelry box. It won’t fit my hand, if you have small fingers,” Mr Moran said. White told 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 very drunk,” Mr Moran said. “I was arrested carelessly.” Mr Moran said he was unaware that wearing the item in public was an offence.
Inspector White said Mr Moran knew this matter was before the courts and had the opportunity to bring the jewelery box to court “and see if it was suitable”. Inspector White told Mr. Moran that the jewelry box does not exist.
Judge MacGrath adjourned the case so that Mr Moran could produce the jewelry box as evidence. The legislation provides a “reasonable explanation” defence, Justice MacGrath said.
At a subsequent hearing, Judge MacGrath said Mr Moran was unable to confirm that explanation and concluded that the facts were proven against him.
Sergeant Thomas Hanrahan said Mr Moran had 127 previous convictions, including 20 for public order matters, 78 traffic offences, eight thefts and offenses for burglary, assault causing damage, failure to appear in court and possession of a knife.
Mr Moran received a suspended two-year prison sentence, handed down in 2018, at the time of the Thurles offence. Mr Justice MacGrath handed Mr Moran a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years on condition he took out a €250 Section 99 bond. The question of the suspended prison sentence from 2018 has been adjourned until April 5.