Man given one-month term after asking to fight garda who tried to stop 15-person woodland boxing session

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Ned Doherty pleaded guilty to a public order offence at Ennis District Court today.

A JUDGE HAS said that a Co Clare man who participated in a 15-person boxing training session in the woods during a Covid-19 lockdown enabled the pandemic to continue.

Ned Doherty (30) of St Michael’s Park, Ballymaley in Ennis, pleaded guilty to a public order offence that occurred when gardaí arrived at the scene at Dromore Wood on 23 May last year and told the group to disperse due to health regulations.

He was given a one-month sentence for a public order breach at Ennis District Court today.

Judge Patrick Durcan said that Doherty’s actions were not fair to older people who are living in total fear of Covid-19 “and who have not left their houses in the last 12 months”.

The judge also told the court today that the actions of the married father-of-four were unfair to the medical services “or while this country is on its knees economically while dealing with the public health emergency”.

“Fifteen guys boxing training in the woods is how the virus spreads, because they can’t be in the one bubble,” he said.

The judge noted that the facts of the case were “appalling” and after imposing the prison sentence, remarked that someone who showed such disregard for the public “must take an appropriate punishment”.

A second charge concerning an alleged breach of Covid-19 regulations was struck out against the accused.

Garda Sergeant Aiden Lonergan told the judge that his colleague, garda Joe Kearney, spoke to the 15 people present when he arrived to the woods, during which he highlighted that health restrictions were in force at the time.

He said the accused replied to gardaí that “he didn’t have time for this” and that he was “losing his sweat”, before he resumed sparring with another man.

Doherty then asked the garda for a fight and called him “hatchet face” before being brought away by members of his family.

The judge said Doherty’s reaction to gardaí was “a hugely aggravating factor” in the case.

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A solicitor for the accused, Daragh Hassett, said his client had arranged to go sparring with a small number of friends in compliance with health regulations, because Dromore Wood was 5km away from his home as the crow flies.

The solicitor said that word about the session got out after it was organised, and that more people came along to the woods than was initially planned.

He also noted that Doherty struggled with the Covid-19 restrictions “and was out in the open air amongst the trees working out”, adding that his client had a short fuse and that there was no excuse for his interaction with gardaí, for which he had since apologised.

After he was sentenced, Doherty was freed on bail pending the outcome of an appeal.

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