Accused jailed after sneezing into woman’s face and then laughing; Judge described it as a vicious crime in current climate 

Accused jailed after sneezing into woman’s face and then laughing; Judge described it as a vicious crime in current climate 
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A YOUNG man sneezing into a woman’s face and then laughing at her was described by the sentencing judge yesterday as a vicious crime in the current climate.

The woman who was terrified by this incident rushed away and did not wish to make a complaint to gardaí so the defendant, Damien O’Gorman was not charged with assault.

Judge Olann Kelleher said the matter was still brought before the court due to the excellent police work of Garda Lorna Healy who witnessed the incident and arrested O’Gorman, aged 32, just after it occurred.

Garda Healy charged him with engaging in threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour and being drunk and a source of danger.

Judge Kelleher said the maximum sentence possible was three months on the threatening charge.

The judge made allowance for the plea of guilty entered by O’Gorman, his apology and mitigating background circumstances outlined by Frank Buttimer, solicitor. He imposed a total sentence of two months yesterday at Cork District Court, where he described the offence as vicious.

Mr Buttimer said of O’Gorman had educational challenges going back to his early teens when he went to Scoil Bernadette in the Cope Foundation.

He said the defendant had moved back to Cork city from Charleville eight weeks ago and got a job in construction, but lost that after when the site closed due to coronavirus and ended up going back on alcohol.

“In the difficult issues he is dealing with at the moment this was particularly bad behaviour and he apologises and expresses his remorse and has learned his lesson,” Mr Buttimer said.

During the bail application last week the defendant, of no fixed address, gave an address at Lus Na Meala, Banduff, Cork, where he would be staying if released.

The background to the April 1 incident was that the woman was left in a terrified state on Patrick Street when the defendant sneezed into her face and laughed at her.

Garda Lorna Healy said it occurred shortly before 7pm on Cork’s main street on Wednesday, April 1.

Garda Healy objected to bail last week because of the deliberate sneezing at a member of the public in what are particularly trying times.

Garda Healy testified that at 6.50pm on the day, the defendant Damien O’Gorman was arrested on Patrick Street.

Garda Healy who was on duty in Cork city centre at the time said that moments earlier she witnessed an incident involving the accused on Patrick Street.

“He was behaving in a very threatening manner. I observed him deliberately walking in front of a female and sneezing deliberately into her face and laughing at her. There was a terrified response from the woman who walked quickly away,” Garda Healy said.

“The woman was unwilling to engage or to answer questions about the assault,” Garda Healy said.

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