A Cork man convicted of carrying a knife in a scabbard claimed he had just bought the weapon as a gift for his grandfather who had fought in the Congo and served many years in the army.
Barrister Frank Buttimer told a presentation on the case on behalf of Stephen Donovan that no one would be able to buy a knife for legitimate use in Cork, put it in their bag and go home with.
The defendant was found guilty and sentenced to three months in jail for carrying a knife in a public place in Cork City.
Stephen Donovan, of no fixed address, contested the case against him for carrying a knife without a legitimate purpose.
Garda Lorraine O’Donovan arrested the 38-year-old in Little Hanover Street on December 23, 2021 at 10:15 a.m.
Garda O’Donovan said: “I saw him approach me on the street and noticed an immediate change in his demeanor. I could physically see his hands shaking. He avoided eye contact.
” I know him since a long time. I had reasonable grounds to search him under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
“I searched it for drugs. I searched his backpack. There was a box and there was a knife inside in a scabbard.
“I asked him why he had the knife I found on him.
“He replied, ‘I bought the knife on North Main Street. It was €40. It was for my grandfather. Anyway, I don’t use weapons.
Defense attorney Frank Buttimer said that, like Garda O’Donovan, he had known Stephen Donovan for a long time and said the defendant had chronic alcohol problems.
Garda Donovan agreed and said: “I know he likes alcohol. I’ve met him many times with bottles and naggins.
Mr Buttimer said that in relation to the defendant’s handshakes: ‘He’s like that when he has alcohol problems.’
The attorney said at one point during his cross-examination, “I could almost testify myself.” Judge Olann Kelleher remarked, “You are.”
Mr Buttimer told the Garda O’Donovan they had jumped to a conclusion that day and that the accused had a legitimate reason for buying the knife and having it in his backpack.
“His grandfather was in the military and is into knives. He has an unusual appearance. He (Stephen Donovan) thought it would be a nice gift,” he said.
The defendant testified in his own defense saying, “I bought the knife at 10:30 in the morning. It was for a Christmas present for my grandfather. He is 90 years old. He was… in the army for 40 years. I didn’t pay €40 for it. I paid 80€ for it.
“He has a lot of military equipment, including knives. He was in the Congo. I had a receipt. It was somewhere in my bag.
In ruling on the case, Judge Olann Kelleher said: “Garda O’Donovan has experience on the streets of Cork. She knew Mr. Donovan and speaks very well of him in many ways. She is the woman on the ground who understands these issues.
“He carries a knife in a public place. I condemn.”
Sergeant Gearóid Davis said the defendant had 86 prior convictions, but none for firearms.
Judge Kelleher handed down a three-month prison sentence retroactive to June 2, the accused having been in custody since that date.