Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Cranberries star ordered to make charity donation over airport attack

Published 24/02/2016

Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan has been fined 6,000 euro
Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan has been fined 6,000 euro

Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan has said she will use music, dancing and performing to improve her mental health after avoiding a criminal conviction for assault at an airport.

The multimillion-selling artist was ordered to pay 6,000 euro to charity for head-butting, kicking, hitting and spitting on police officers following an alleged air rage incident.

Last December the singer admitted three assaults and obstructing a garda after being taken off an Aer Lingus flight from New York's JFK to Ireland on November 10 2014.

As she was being arrested at Shannon Airport, O'Riordan told officers that she was an "icon" and the Queen of Limerick.

Medical reports produced for the trial at Ennis District Court revealed she had been suffering from mania, mental illness and severely impaired judgment at the time of the incident, and that she remembers nothing about it.

Leaving the courthouse supported by her mother, Eileen, one of her brothers and her solicitor, Bill O'Donnell, O'Riordan urged other people suffering mental illness to "reach out for help".

"I don't really have much to say, just that I'm glad it's over," she said.

"I want to thank the doctors that helped me to get back to my health mentally.

"I'm very good today, very positive about this coming year.

"I have a couple of albums coming out and I'm going to go back to work."

O'Riordan said she had one collection planned with the Irish Chamber Orchestra and that she would use "music, dancing, performing" to help her recover from the episode of mental illness.

Judge Patrick Durcan examined four medical reports, two of which he detailed to the court, and said it would be unfair to impose a criminal conviction on the Cranberries star.

"Let me be utterly clear that the defendant is not being treated any differently than anyone else," he said.

The judge said O'Riordan had an unblemished character up until this incident and asked for the money to be paid to a charity which helps prisoners ahead of their release from jail.

He said he was taking into account O'Riordan's early plea, that she had accepted the evidence and had written apologies to the three officers she attacked.

"The defendant accepted that serious wrong had been done and the defendant approached the righting of that wrong in a very responsible, fulsome and wholesome manner," he said.

"I'm of the view that it would be unfair and would not be just to criminalise the defendant in this case."

O'Riordan, 44, a mother of three children aged 18, 14 and 10, had been living in New York at the time of the incident. which happened after splitting up with her husband of 20 years, Don Burton.

The court heard she had been too ill to travel to Canada to see her children for two months prior to it.

She had been travelling home to Ireland to attend Mass to mark the second anniversary of her father's death.

Alcohol was not a factor, the court heard.

The trial was told the incident began on approach to Shannon. Flight attendant Carmel Coyne suffered an ankle injury trying to calm O'Riordan and encourage her to take her seat as the plane came in to land.

She did not press charges.

The court heard that as O'Riordan was being arrested she accused Garda Shane Dawson of groping her and sexually assaulting her, a claim which has since been retracted.

The officer told the trial that he has since had to change how he polices and that he took five days off work after being spat at and head-butted in the face, sustaining a black eye.

O'Riordan twice tried to flee custody after being arrested, on one occasion freeing herself from handcuffs and forcing the back door of a patrol car open as Garda Dawson wrote up his notes on the airport apron.

The officer ranked the episode as one of the worst incidents he has had to deal with in his 14-year career.

The court heard airport police inspector Ronan O'Reilly was kicked in the waist area and slapped on a shoulder while officer Eamon Power was spat at and suffered a grazed shin from a kick when the pair tried to restrain O'Riordan in first class.

The court also heard the singer told Mr O'Reilly that she paid their wages.

After her arrest she was ordered into care in St Patrick's Hospital in Dublin and treated by consultant psychiatrist Seamus O Ceallaigh for three weeks.

The court heard detail from two of the four medical reports given to the judge at the end of the trial.

Mr O Ceallaigh said she suffered mania, severely impaired judgment caused by the symptoms of medical illness but after being prescribed medication he said her prognosis was good.

Family GP Kevin Twomey assessed O'Riordan after her arrest and diagnosed her as suffering hypomania and found that she was not responsible for her actions.

Days later when he saw her in a house she had been renting in Adare, Co Limerick, he advised that she be treated in St Patrick's, but she refused to go voluntarily.

Judge Durcan said: "I'm satisfied on the basis of the medical reports that I have before me that the actions of the defendant in Shannon Airport on November 10 2014 all occurred when the defendant was suffering from a very severe medical illness which completely inhibited her judgment."

The judge also accepted O'Riordan has no memory of the incident.

The assault charges O'Riordan admitted could have resulted in up to six months in jail or a maximum fine of 1,850 euro if the judge had opted for a criminal conviction.

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph