A PRISONER who assaulted an officer in Cork Prison was warned by a sentencing judge today: “When you see the uniform, you have to back off.”
Judge Con O’Leary said prison officers had to be protected by courts and that assaults such as this in prison had to result in sentences that were consecutive to the terms being served.
Inspector James Hallahan said at Cork District Court that the incident occurred when prisoner Brian Reilly was being brought to the Challenging Behaviour Unit at the prison, where he continued to be aggressive.
As one of the officers was trying to calm him down, the prisoner lashed out at another officer, causing the arm of the first officer to be bent back.
The injured party, prison officer Brendan Conroy, agreed with the inspector’s outline and said: “That is essentially what happened. I had my hand out to calm him down. He seemed to have some issue (with the other officer).
“As he launched at him, my hand got caught. It was accidental in respect of that. It was one of those unfortunate things. It happens from time to time.”
The prisoner wanted to speak up in court and told Judge O’Leary that while that was what happened and that he apologised to the officer for it, there was a background where he had made a complaint against another prison officer previously in relation to an unrelated matter.
He also felt he had been punished unfairly within the prison.
Reilly said he did not have an issue with Mr Conroy, and had never intended to assault him. He was pleading guilty to the assault because he accepted he was reckless in his actions.
Judge O’Leary said a lot of people in prisons were violent and that officers had to be respected.
The judge imposed a sentence of 28 days consecutive to the 18 months Reilly, of Taitlinn Drive, Windtown, Navan, Co Meath, was serving.