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Ammi Burke, Sean Burke and Martina Burke
seán burke

Father of Enoch Burke found guilty of 'red rag to a bull assault' on female garda in courtroom

Enoch Burke’s sister Ammi Burke was found guilty of obstructing a garda during the same “commotion” at the Four Courts.


THE FATHER OF jailed teacher Enoch Burke has been found guilty of assault after a trial heard he grabbed and “flung” a female garda to the ground “like a red rag to a bull” after his wife was escorted out of the Court of Appeal (CoA).

His sister Ammi Burke, was found guilty of obstructing a garda during the same “commotion” on 7 March last year at the Four Courts.

Sean Burke, who is in his 60s, denied assaulting Bridewell Garda Victoria Fisher at the CoA in the Four Courts. His daughter Ammi Burke, 33, a qualified solicitor, pleaded not guilty to obstructing a garda who arrested her brother Simeon on the same date just outside the building.

They faced a mammoth non-jury hearing before Judge Michele Finan at Dublin District Court yesterday, which ran from just after midday until nearly 11 pm, and heard evidence from 11 Garda witnesses.

Judge Finan found them guilty of the charges, which carry a maximum sentence of six months imprisonment for the assault, and one year for obstructing an arrest.

Finalising the case, Judge Finan applied the Probation of Offenders Act in the case of Sean Burke, sparing him a recorded conviction. However, she convicted Ammi Burke and imposed a fine of €400, to be paid within 12 months.

Ms Burke told the court she does not intend to pay and that she would appeal the verdict.

In her comments, Judge Finan said Sean Burke was reckless trying to get to his wife out of concern but there was no justification for shoving the garda who recovered speedily. She noted he had no prior criminal convictions and said that if it had not been a case of recklessness he would be facing a custodial sentence.

She thought that people had “lost the run of themselves” at that moment in time. She told him she was leaving him without a record because of his previous good character, but that did not undermine what happened to Garda Fisher.

Judge Finan noted Ammi Burke’s occupation and that a conviction was a serious matter for her, and the height of evidence was that she went over to a guard and put her hand on him.

There was no allegation she hurt the officer and that incident lasted no more than three minutes.

The judge said it would be very sad if that affected her in an adverse way. Usually, she said, she would asked for a charitable donation but she did not think the accused was disposed to that. Ms Burke said: “You’re asking me to donate in a circumstance where there were unlawful activities of gardai; it would be wrong.”

Judge Finan then finalised the case and recorded conviction and fined Ms Burke.

Appeal bail was set at €200.

The offence coincided with the day her brother Enoch was involved in a legal case before the CoA over a dispute with Wilson’s Hospital School in Co. Westmeath.

Both father and daughter of Cloonsunna, Castlebar, Co. Mayo conducted their own defence and contended that the CoA did not make a valid order to remove them from the proceedings.

Mr Burke also claimed that the garda was knocked over by accident.
Last year, Enoch Burke’s brother, Simeon, then a barrister at law student in Kings Inns, was fined €300 at Dublin District Court.

He had been convicted of threatening, insulting, and abusive behaviour after Enoch’s proceedings on March 7, 2023, but he consistently denied the charge and has been subsequently cleared on appeal.

His father and sister Ammi contended that Simeon’s subsequent acquittal strengthened their defence in the case against them.

Garda Fisher told prosecution counsel Emer Ni Chuagain that at around 3 pm she came over from the Bridewell station to assist colleagues who had been instructed to clear the courtroom after a disturbance which prompted the presiding judges to leave the bench.

Martina Burke, Ammi’s mother, was holding onto a bench before being escorted out, and a colleague alerted Garda Fisher to “watch your back”.

Garda Fisher said she looked over her shoulder, “and I could see Sean Burke coming toward me shouting ‘get out of my way’ and leave my wife alone’.”

She alleged he put a hand on her left shoulder and “flung me, and I hit the wall and radiator”, and she could not believe what had happened.

She said her ribs were sore, and she was in total shock and pain and upset.

She saw a doctor back at her station and was advised to take painkillers. That evening, she took pictures of inflammation on the side of her body, and those images were tendered as exhibits in the hearing.

Cross-examined by Mr Burke, she agreed there was congestion and commotion near the courtroom door. However, when that defendant put to her that he was following his wife out the door, she replied: “You were shouting ‘get out of my way’, and I turned, and you put your hand on my shoulder and said ‘leave my wife alone’ and kept saying ‘ get out of my way’.”

“I had no interaction with your wife. You just came through me,” she said, and she later told him, “No man should put his hands on a woman”. Mr Burke suggested that if she fell, it was an accident, and it was “completely inadvertent”, but she disagreed and said he had been aggressive and shouting about wanting to get to his wife.

He also put to her that she was in the video footage leaving the courtroom after he exited.
Garda Fisher said that earlier on, she had escorted Ammi Burke out of the building onto Inns Quays and that the accused fell, but she helped her get back up.

An RTE news clip of that was shown during the hearing. Ms Burke described it as a shocking experience for her.

Garda Amy Murtagh testified that Mr Burke pulled Garda Fisher, who fell into a large radiator. Garda Murtagh recalled her colleague looked shocked and had tears in her eyes, but she didn’t cry because she was a professional.

Garda Anthony Hutton alleged Mr Burke “lunged” at Garda Fisher and shoved her into an “old school radiator against the wall and she slumped down”. Garda Hutton described it as “like a red rag to a bull situation”.

The officer believed the accused “had a vendetta against anyone in his way, that was my perception of the situation”.

CCTV footage was shown of members of the Burke family escorted from the courtroom and Ammi Burke outside dealing with the officers who arrested her brother Simeon.

But there was no footage of the alleged assault incident.

Digital audio recordings of some of the CoA proceedings were heard.

Other officers told the court that they were shouted at when they went to deal with the family.

Garda Patrick Hynes said that when he was arresting Simeon Burke, Ammi reached over his shoulder and grabbed his right arm. He alleged she forcibly tried to remove his hands, and he had to push her away.

He said he asked her to stop and was shocked by her attempt to free Mr Burke from his grip.

Ms Burke said she was concerned about Simeon and believed he had been unlawfully arrested.

The garda witnesses admitted they were unaware of a later direction by the CoA president that if there were any more interruptions, the judges would simply rise and deliver their judgment electronically. The defendants argued that the initial direction to remove the Burke family members had been countermanded.