Drunk US engineer smashed up Cork hotel

Drunk US engineer smashed up Cork hotel
US businessman Albert Santiago pictured at Cork Circuit Court in February. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney

An Illinois engineer who smashed up a Cork city hotel when he was “completely off his head” and called people the devil has paid the €16,000 bill for damage and also made a €5,000 contribution to the Simon community.

The engineer was too ill to travel to Cork for the adjourned sentencing.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said the accused had done everything that was asked of him and sentencing could be completed in his absence.

Noting the absence of previous convictions, the payment of compensation in full, the apology and the payment of €5,000 to Simon, the judge said he was prepared to give the accused the benefit of a dismissal under the Probation of Offenders Act.

Albert Santiago of Holdridge Avenue, Beach Park, Illinois, pleaded guilty to a total of 16 charges at Cork Circuit Criminal Court arising from incidents at the Clayton Hotel on Lapps Quay in Cork city centre on August 12 2018. 

This included two charges of assaulting receptionists, one charge of reckless endangerment, one charge of engaging in threatening and abusive behaviour, one charge of being intoxicated and a danger to himself and others and 11 charges of criminal damage.

At the height of the incident he assaulted hotel staff and smashed up the lobby before going to the fifth floor to throw a fire extinguisher and other things from the balcony.

Some customers had to be locked into the hotel bar for safety at the height of the rumpus.

Judge Ó Donnabháin was told a total of €16,000 in damage was caused to property at the hotel on the night in question including artwork, a revolving door, a lift call station, a fire station, walls, glass panels, a fire extinguisher, chairs, a table, a hotel bedroom door and golden spheres.

Detective Garda Cormac Crotty testified that the specialist engineer who was a regular at the hotel and had visited Ireland many times as part of his work over the past 13 years without incident.

Santiago, 54, flew from Chicago to Heathrow to Cork and then went out and had too much to drink and caused extensive damage back in the hotel.

“He was very drunk. He approached the reception desk. He became abusive to a guest. He tried to pull the guest’s phone from his hand. He pulled a lamp from reception. He was approached by members of staff. He pushed one of them into the face.

“He remained in the lobby for 20 minutes, pulling lamps and computers to the floor, throwing lamps around the lobby area, cracking glass in the revolving door,” Det. Garda Crotty said.

He picked up the top of a metal bin and threw it, striking the chest of another member of staff.

“He went to the fifth floor. He caused damage, breaking up chairs and tables and he began throwing things from the balcony to the lobby below,” the detective said.

He caught a fire extinguisher by its hose and swung the heavy metal cylinder causing damage to walls and the lift door before throwing the device over the balcony.

“There was a lot of panic in the hotel during the 40 minutes that this was going on. Some of the guests had to be locked into the bar because items were being thrown down.

Following his arrest, he was apologetic and visibly upset when shown CCTV.

Santiago lost the job he held for the past 31 years in Illinois as a result of his behaviour in Cork.

Defence barrister, Ray Boland, said of Santiago, “He was completely off his head. He was on prescription medication. There was no question of recreational drugs being used. He had way too much to drink.

“He had a recollection of being assaulted on his way back to the hotel. He was injured and bleeding as a result of his. When he came back to the hotel in such a condition of paranoia and rage he was calling people the devil randomly,” Mr Boland said.

Mr Boland BL said the defendant had been planning to retire within the next three to five years but now faces having to rebuild his career as an independent contractor willing to travel worldwide. Any conviction would have consequences for these plans, the barrister said.

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