Don’t always do what your mammy says, advises judge

March 17th, 2023 11:45 AM

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A DISTRICT court judge told a new dad that he shouldn’t always do what his ‘mammy’ tells him, after he heard the man had excavated land belonging to his neighbour.

Judge James McNulty had been finalising the cases of both James and Sarah Holland of Rathrout, Ballinadee at a recent sitting of Clonakilty District Court. 

Both had previously pleaded guilty to causing €16,000 worth of damage to land owned by Paddy and Mary O’Regan at Templebryan South near Clonakilty, on dates between May 11th and 16th 2020. They employed a contractor to carry out the work. The contactor was unaware that the land was not theirs and he undertook the work in ‘good faith.’

The court previously heard that when Paddy O’Regan visited the land on May 15th 2020 he found that the boundary ditch had been removed, trees were uprooted and a trench of almost two metres deep was dug out and three holes that had been dug for percolating testing were filled in and covered. 

The total cost of the damage came to €15,993.28. 

The court heard Sarah Holland’s sister had sold her share of the land years previously to Pike Construction, which is owned by Paddy and Mary O’Regan.

James and Sarah Holland had been directed by Judge McNulty to carry out repairs on the land before he would conclude the case.

At the most recent court sitting, barrister Alan O’Dwyer, representing James and Sarah Holland, told the court that the issue of the land goes back a number of generations and that it was once owned by the Holland family. 

‘They went about it the wrong way and James has learnt a salutary lesson,’ said Mr O’Dwyer, who added that his clients are ‘exceptionally remorseful’.

Judge McNulty said that Paddy and Mary O’Regan were the ‘innocent ones’ over some ‘perceived interfamilial heritage.’ Mr O’Dwyer told the judge that there had been some difficulties with the re-instatement of the land. 

He said his client, James Holland, had provided money for an excavator and digger to help carry out the work and that matters were under discussion between Mr O’Regan’s engineer and James Holland.

Mr O’Regan told the court that there had been some issues with drainage, but that the latest engineer’s report said that the land is dry, bar the northern part of it.

Judge McNulty said that the works may not be remediated entirely to the satisfaction of the injured party, but that it is a ‘good start’.

The court heard that James Holland, who is in his 30s and a farmer by trade, has one or two previous convictions for road traffic offences, while his mother Sarah has no previous convictions.

‘What he did was outrageous and he intruded on the property of his neighbour and excavated land, all on some notion that they had been robbed,’ said Judge McNulty.

‘He was an adult when he did this. Don’t always do what your mammy tells you,’ urged the judge.

Mr O’Dwyer said it has come at a great cost for Mr Holland, who recently became a dad, reiterating that he won’t be before the court again. A bank draft for €16,000 was handed into court.

‘It was probably the biggest mistake in their lives and they apologise to their neighbours and are remorseful and embarrassed,’ said the barrister.

Sarah Holland was given a conditional discharge for three years on a bond of €5,000 with no cash required, while James Holland was fined €2,000, which was produced in court.

‘As for their neighbours, they can reserve their right to pursue a civil claim for damages for anything they consider incomplete or not to their satisfaction,’ said Judge McNulty.

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