Jail for musician after a number of incidents including 'artistic statement' which saw him dig up paving slabs in Cork city

Jail for musician after a number of incidents including 'artistic statement' which saw him dig up paving slabs in Cork city

Cork City Council reported criminal damage to the Gardai after paving at four different locations in the city centre were dug up last year. Picture Cork City Council.

A homeless musician making an artistic statement left Cork City Council with a €2,000 repair bill when he dug up paving slabs around Cork city centre and left cut flowers in the holes.

Eric Geaney, 29, pleaded guilty to a total of 17 charges at Cork District Court for which he was given a total jail term of four months.

On another occasion, he was sitting outside a pub in Cork city putting strings on his guitar and asked for a cup of coffee. Sergeant Pat Lyons said that when the member of staff returned with the coffee, “she was alarmed at the subject matter of the song he was singing and she alerted the manager.” Geaney ended up being prosecuted for assaulting the manager.

Gardaí at the Bridewell heard banging outside the station and went outside to find Geaney slapping traffic light poles and railings with an iron bar claiming that he was making music.

Eddie Burke solicitor said the defendant had mental health difficulties, for which he had been hospitalised in the past. He said Geaney did not take the medication that was prescribed for him.

“He is originally from Mayfield. He loves music. He had a musical instrument with him during a number of these incidents. He was in St Michael’s (psychiatric unit of Mercy University Hospital) for two months at one stage. If he could be convinced to take medication that would help. He does want to apologise,” Mr Burke said.

Judge Kelleher said, “I have read the various medical reports. I have great sympathy for him. Unfortunately, he won’t take medication and he continues to use cannabis to his own detriment. He always comes across in court as a very decent man but then he causes havoc in the city and he won’t cooperate with his own psychiatrist. And cannabis has affected his mental state. Hopefully, when he reflects on things in prison he will decide to take medication.” 

Sergeant Lyons said Cork City Council street-cleaning staff made the discovery early on the morning of April 12 2020 when they found paving stones had been removed at locations on Paul Street, St Peter and Paul Place and Lavitt’s Quay. Dozens of paving stones had been removed at each of the locations and neatly stacked nearby with cut flowers and greenery left in their place to cover the spaces.

Geaney later said he was making an artistic statement.

The incident with the guitar occurred outside The Old Oak on Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork, on September 2 last year and he kicked out at the manager at the height of the incident making contact with his hand. Mr Burke said there was no injury caused and it was a glancing impact.

Around this time he was found banging poles and railings in the area outside the Bridewell garda station.

On March 1 of this year he got aggressive with gardaí during an incident in Cork city centre. He became particularly abusive to one garda calling him a c***, a rapist and a paedophile and threatening to cut his throat.

There were other public order incidents, carrying of knives and thefts around Cork city to which Eric Geaney also pleaded guilty. Mr Burke said the accused was only using the knives as cutlery for eating while he was homeless.

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