06 Jul 2022

County Derry sisters attacked police after dispute over St Patrick's night lift

The defendants had been drinking since early afternoon.

County Derry sisters attacked police after dispute over St Patrick's night lift

Magherafelt Magistrates Court.

Two County Derry sisters repeatedly assaulted police after a deal they hoped would secure them a lift home went sour, a court has heard.

Geraldine O'Neill (27) and Naomi O'Neill (23), both of Hammond Street, Moneymore, entered guilty pleas to charges of assault and disorderly behaviour at Magherafelt Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

Geraldine O'Neill also pleaded guilty to a further charge of criminal damage in connection with the incident on March 17 2020.

Police had been on patrol in the Rainey Street area of Magherafelt when they observed Geraldine O'Neill standing in a parking bay, shouting and gesturing at a row of parked cars.

On seeing police, she got into the back of a red Audi that was waiting beside her. Police spoke with the driver, before returning to speak to Geraldine O'Neill.

The defendant became immediately confrontational, and began shouting and swearing, before admitting punching a car as someone had 'called her fat'.

After being asked to calm down by police, O'Neill got out of the car, telling police to 'f**king arrest her'.

At this point, Naomi O'Neill intervened, becoming verbally abusive towards the police before throwing money underneath the car and telling them to pick it up.

When police made clear they would not be picking it up, Naomi O'Neill said: “We'll f**king see about that. Go on, arrest me,” before asking police if they thought she was scared of them.

She then passed her bag to Geraldine O'Neill, before punching a police constable while continuing to shout and swear.

While holding her sister's bag, Geraldine O'Neill then joined in the assault, hitting another constable on the back of the head with the handbag, before punching the boot of the Audi.

She then hit another constable in the eye, knocking his glasses off, and kicked another in the chest while being restrained and placed in the rear of a police vehicle.

Police noted a quantity of saliva on a constable's hat that had been sitting next to Geraldine O'Neill in the back of the vehicle.

Both defendants were arrested and taken to custody in Dungannon, where Geraldine said she had little recollection of the events.

She said she had given the driver £20 expecting they would take her and her sister home, but that they had started to drive off, causing her to hit the car in an effort to get them to stop.

Naomi O'Neill refused to provide any details to police in custody, and after they confirmed her identity, she was released without interview.

Defence for the sisters said they had spent that St Patrick's Day drinking from around 12.00pm, and had been mixing alcohol with other medication.

They said the defendants had been annoyed that the driver had taken their money and failed to give them a lift home, and that both were 'very apologetic' for the incident.

Defence said both women were working full time and had ambitions to go into the childcare sector, having already completed some of the qualifications.

Judge Mullan said the defendants' behaviour had been 'fairly shocking', that it was 'foolish drunkenness' and expressed hope they would learn from their mistakes.

She fined Geraldine O'Neill a total of £500 and Naomi O'Neill a total of £300, with both defendants also having a £15 offender's levy imposed.

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