Sunday 18 March 2018

Ooh, aah... court for Paul McGrath


FORMER Irish soccer international Paul McGrath was fined a total of €2,100 at Enniscorthy District Court in the wake of his drunken behaviour in Ferns last April. Judge Donnchadh Ó Buachalla was told that the ex Manchester United and Aston Villa player had compensated Noel Peppard in the wake of an assault and the taking of his car.

The court learned that McGrath, who has been living at Tomsollagh in Ferns, was now preparing to go to Dublin in order to tackle an admitted drink problem. His solicitor Pat McCarthy suggested that the alcohol his client drank on the night in question had not reacted well with medication which the legendary defender was taking.

Fifty-year-old McGrath, dressed in a black suit and open-necked shirt, heard evidence of arrest, charge and caution given by investigating Garda Brendan Moore. The sergeant told how the sporting hero responded 'guilty' when formally charged with assault, unauthorised taking of Noel Peppard's vehicle, driving without insurance, drink driving and public drunkenness.

In court, Mr McCarthy confirmed that the defendant was guilty on all five counts and was happy to let the case go ahead. A summary of what occurred on April 26 was provided by the sergeant. He told how he responded to a call after midnight from Noel Peppard who informed him he had been assaulted and his car taken. The injured party identified his assailant as Paul McGrath. Sergeant Moore patrolled in search of the missing 99WD2194, to no immediate avail.

The car was not found immediately but then a further call was received from the Riverside Park Hotel in Enniscorthy where a man, who turned out to be the soccer star, was causing a disturbance. The accused sportsman clearly had drink taken and he was arrested on suspicion of a drink drive offence. A blood test confirmed in due course that he had more than three times the legal alcohol limit in his system as the laboratory returned a reading of 257 mgs alcohol per 100 millilitres.

The sergeant fully accepted that the man he arrested that night accepted his wrong-doing from the start. The court heard that McGrath had made contact privately later with Peppard in order to apologise and offer compensation. No details of the assault were given in court but the form of the charge confirmed that no lasting injury was inflicted. The car he took sustained no damage and was located shortly after the incident.

Sergeant Moore hoped that what occurred was a one-off, adding that Noel Peppard did not want to give formal evidence to the court. Solicitor Pat McCarthy described suggested to the court that his famous client was a renowned and iconic person who had given his life over to doing good for others.

McGrath had never been before this court or any other court in his life, it was stated. In mitigation, Mr. McCarthy suggested that, at the time of the offences the accused, had been taking medication and the medicine reacted in his system with alcohol. The solicitor told how Noel Peppard had offered a neighbourly lift to McGrath who was walking homewards from Ferns. In return for his good deed, Peppard was assaulted. The only explanation offered to the judge for this was that McGrath somehow believed that he was being brought away to be beaten up.

Such behaviour was out of character for the defendant, Mr McCarthy argued. No lasting injuries were inflicted. The court was told that McGrath has since taken help for his drink problem. He had attended the Thornfield House centre, which provided a report from a man called Michael Doran. He intended continuing to receive help from a therapist called Anne Twomey.

The solicitor said that, though Paul McGrath lived in the Ferns area, he would have to go back to Dublin in order to deal with his drink problem over a period of time. It was stated that Noel Peppard had met the defendant and talked things through.

Judge Donnchadh Ó Buachalla noted that guilty pleas had been entered in all matters. He dealt with the drink drive offence by handing down a conviction, a fine of €600 and the mandatory three-year driving ban. For having no insurance, McGrath was convicted and fined €1,000. The unauthorised taking of 99WD2194 drew a €500 fine. The judge marked the assault and the public order offence ' taken into consideration'.

Throughout the brief hearing of his case, Paul McGrath stood behind his solicitor and said nothing to the court apart from a polite ' thanks very much' after the imposition of the drink drive conviction. He left promptly with his solicitor after the convictions and fines were handed down.

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