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Man guilty of ‘bullying’ Michael Healy-Rae at rally ‘never wants to attend a political protest again’

A protester who admitted “bullying” Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae by throwing a bottle at the politician and blocking him in Leinster House has been given the opportunity to take part in a restorative justice programme.

Dublin District Court heard on Thursday that the “distressing” incident took place when an anti-government and immigration demonstration “got out of control” on September 20.

Apprentice carpenter Dean Hickson, 22, of Griffith Parade, Finglas East, Dublin, appeared again before Judge Paula Murphy, who heard Hickson never wanted to attend a political rally again.

About 200 people had staged a protest outside government buildings when the Dáil resumed after the summer recess. This led to several arrests and the independent TD subsequently condemned the conduct of some protesters as he and an office intern attempted to leave the area.

Garda Chloe Rochfort, who investigated the case, told Judge Murphy that Healy-Rae, who was not present at the hearing nor required to testify, did not wish to make a victim impact statement.

Hickson had pleaded guilty to intimidating Michael Healy-Rae at 2 Kildare Street Dublin on September 20, and the court heard he wished to apologize to the victim.

In mitigation, his defense lawyer, Donal Quigley, said Hickson, who has no previous criminal convictions, was attending a political protest.

“He said he’s never been to one before and says he’ll never be to one again in his life.” The lawyer told the court:

Things got out of control. He was more aggressive than he thought he would be. He doesn’t even have that political mindset.

He added that his client had been sincere and apologized when he was taken to a police station. Garda Rochfort confirmed that this happened when she met him at Pearse Street station to charge him.

Judge Murphy said the incident was very distressing for everyone involved and a very serious offense for a man with no criminal record. He has ordered the Probation Service to prepare a restorative justice report and will consider how it will approach the case.

“The aggrieved party must also be informed of their right to attend. This is generally best if the parties compromise so that the implications of this type of conduct can also be made clear,” the judge said.

Hickson, who did not address the court, was released on bail and will appear again in September for sentencing. Following a Garda investigation, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) ordered Gardaí to charge Hickson in February.

The Attorney General ordered the summary disposition in the District Court, which can impose a sentence of 12 months and a fine, rather than a trial at the Circuit Court level, which can impose a sentence of up to five years. Judge Murphy accepted jurisdiction.

The court heard the defendant was among several aggressive protesters outside Leinster House during an anti-government and anti-immigration protest. At one point, CCTV footage captured him “throwing a plastic bottle in the direction of Michael Healy-Rae, almost missing his head”.

During the investigation, the defendant was identified on video “as physically preventing Michael Healy-Rae from entering government buildings, which is his workplace.” The defense was granted an order to be given copies of the prosecution’s evidence, including video footage.

At a preliminary hearing in February, his attorney told the judge that his client maintained that he “did not block anyone’s entry or exit.” However, he later admitted to the crime.

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