Man who spat at garda after being caught breaking into school jailed for 16 months

Brendan O’Neill (34) broke through ceiling of school in Co Donegal, causing more than €6,000 worth of damage

A man who spat in a Garda sergeant’s face after being caught breaking into a Co Donegal school has been jailed for 16 months.

Brendan O’Neill caused €6,668 worth of damage to St Columba’s Secondary School in Stranorlar after he broke his way in through the roof of the school.

The 34-year-old accused discarded slates and then broke through a ceiling before getting into the main building.

O’Neill, who has 86 previous convictions, was caught when the principal arrived at the school and found the burglar on the premises.


Gardaí were called and arrested the father of three, who was taken to Letterkenny Garda station to be interviewed.

When being processed, O’Neill spat in the face of Gda Sgt Paul Forrestal.

O’Neill, of College Avenue, in Mountmellick, Co Laois, appeared at a special sitting of Letterkenny District Court, where he pleaded guilty to charges of burglary, criminal damage and assault.

The court heard that O’Neill had been jailed on a number of occasions after being found guilty of a range of offences including public order, assault, possession of an offensive weapon and criminal damage.

His solicitor, Mr Patsy Gallagher, said his client fully accepts his wrongdoing and, on the night, was on alcohol and a range of non-prescription drugs.

He added that the reason he broke into the school was because he was trying to flee a third party.

Mr Gallagher said O’Neill had not been as lucky as many and had left school early saying “all he saw was drugs and a certain attitude towards authority”.

However, since this incident and going into custody on October 16th he has been a model prisoner, said Mr Gallagher, claiming that prison officers say there is a “relaxed approach” towards O’Neill.

He asked Judge Ciaran Liddy to consider doing two things for his client in order to give him some hope and these were to backdate his sentence and also to suspend part of it.

After considering the sentence, Judge Liddy sentenced O’Neill to a total of 16 months in prison. He backdated the sentence and also ordered the accused to attend the Probation Service when he is released from prison.