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Dolores O'Riordan told to pay €6,000 to poor box over air rage incident

The singer pleaded guilty to an air rage incident last December after being arrested at Shannon Airport in 2014.

Image: Niall Carson

CRANBERRIES SINGER DOLORES O’Riordan will not receive a criminal conviction arising from her ‘air rage’ offences at Shannon Airport in November of 2014.

At Ennis District Court today, Judge Patrick Durcan said that to criminalise Ms O’Riordan would not be just and would be unfair after concluding that she was suffering from “a severe mental illness” at the time of the incident.

Judge Durcan said after reading several medical reports in the case that the mental illness Ms O’Riordan was suffering from at the time “completely inhibited her judgement”.

He said the fact that Ms O’Riordan (44) could not remember any of the incident showed she was incapable of understanding or recording what she was doing at the time.

But he added that she was the perpetrator of serious assaults and of “appalling behaviour” during the incident.

Poor box

Judge Durcan said that if Ms O’Riordan paid €6,000 towards the court poor box he would not impose any criminal conviction, and adjourned the matter for one week.

Ms O’Riordan has an unblemished record, he said, and was not being treated differently to anyone else who came before the court on public order related charges.

Judge Durcan said that the money would go towards supporting prisoners exiting the prison system and trying to adapt to the outside world.

Speaking outside Ennis Courthouse after the sentencing, a relieved Ms O’Riordan said:

“I’m glad it’s over and I want to thank the doctors who helped me to get back my health mentally.

I’m feeling very good today, very positive about this upcoming year. I have a couple of albums coming out and I’m going to go back to work.

When asked about the stigma over mental illness and whether it was time people spoke and opened up more, Ms O’Riordan said ‘of course’ and urged people suffering similar problems to “just reach out for help”.

Air rage 

In the case, Ms O’Riordan – with an address of Friarstown, Grange, Kilmallock – pleaded guilty to assaulting Garda Shane Dawson and two members of the Airport Police (Ronan O’Reilly and Eamon Power) at Shannon.

Ms O’Riordan pleaded guilty to resisting/wilfully obstructing Garda Dawson in the execution of his duty contrary to Section 19 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994.

In evidence heard in the case, the court heard that an out-of-control Dolores O’Riordan had shouted ‘I’m an icon, I’m the Queen of Limerick’ during the incident and that she had head-butted and spat in the face of one Garda.

Inspector Tom Kennedy told Ennis District Court that on 10 November 2014 the 44-year-old Cranberries singer also spat in the face of and kicked out at an Airport Police Officer (APO).

Inspector Kennedy said that Ms O’Riordan had become unruly on board a Shannon-bound Aer Lingus flight from JFK during which she stood on the foot of flight attendant, Carmel Coyne, and hurt her ankle severely.

Escapes from custody

After Ms O’Riordan was detained, upon the plane touching down, Inspector Kennedy said that Ms O’Riordan made two separate escapes from custody.

Relaying evidence from APO Ronan O’Reilly, Inspector Kennedy said that upon touching down, Ms O’Riordan “became very difficult towards him and went to hit him in the face, but missed.

He is quite tall. She was able to hit in the shoulder, and kicked him in the waist area.

In one incident, Inspector Kennedy said that the 44-year-old mother-of-three told Garda Dawson:

You can’t arrest me. I’m an icon. I’m the Queen of Limerick. You don’t know who you are dealing with. I pay my taxes so I pay your wages and I am going to sue you.

Inspector Kennedy said: “Ms O’Riordan was quite irrational, quite aggressive, quite difficult.”

Mitigation pleas

In his plea of mitigation, solicitor for Ms O’Riordan Bill O’Donnell said that “these were the actions of a very, very ill person”.

Clearly from the evidence, she was somewhat out of control.

Mr O’Donnell said:

“Ms O’Riordan was going through a very, very difficult time having recently separated from her husband of 20 years.

She moved to New York City and hadn’t seen her children, aged 18, 14 and 10 for two months who live in Canada and she was living out of a suitcase in New York City.

He told the court: “She was quite unwell during this period arising from the devastating effect from the break up of her marriage and not seeing her children.”

Mr O’Donnell said that Ms O”Riordan was returning to Ireland for the second anniversary of her father’s death.

This was a very emotional time for my client and she was not in a good place.

Mr O’Donnell said:

All her actions were reactionary and she did not deliberately set out to cause any harm or cause any assault. She genuinely felt she was under attack; that she was under siege.

He added that a medic on the day concluded Ms O’Riordan was unfit for Garda questioning.

Reports 

A separate psychiatric report found that Ms O’Riordan “looked exhausted, had poor insight into her altered mental state and the incident on the plane took place while she was quite unwell and this was caused by bi-polar disorder”. The singer was shortly afterwards admitted to St Patrick’s Psychiatric Hospital and remained there for three weeks.

Mr O’Donnell said that there was no intention by Mr O’Riordan to commit the actions on the day and she didn’t remember what fully occurred.

He said that she had no previous convictions, had travelled around the world with her career since she was 18 and had never had an incident on a plane before November 2014.

Her solicitor also said his client apologised unreservedly for her actions and was “very remorseful about all of this and embarrassed over what has occurred”.

Read: O’Riordan shouted ‘I’m the Queen of Limerick’ during air rage incident, court told

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About the author:

Gordon Deegan

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