THREE brothers received prison sentences after being involved in a hostile confrontation with gardaí intent on seizing untaxed and uninsured vehicles parked in front of their halting site.
Ray Hennessy, solicitor, indicated that the three brothers – James, John and Michael Delaney of The Halting Site at Reenrour West in Bantry – would be appealing the decision made by Judge James McNulty at Bantry District Court last Monday.
James Delaney – who has 83 previous convictions – was sentenced to six months imprisonment for causing criminal damage to a car belonging to Thomas Mongan on the morning of May 20th 2020.
John Delaney – who has 17 previous convictions – was convicted of using a concrete block to damage the windscreen of the same car and was sentenced to six months imprisonment.
John Delaney was also sentenced to 90 days for engaging in threatening and abusive words and behaviour; six months for obstructing Gda Batt Duggan; and six months imprisonment with an endorsement and a three-year disqualification for dangerous driving.
Michael Delaney – who has 15 previous convictions – was sentenced to six months imprisonment for causing criminal damage to the same car; and 90 days for engaging in threatening and abusive words or behaviour.
Evidence was also given against the boys’ father, Jim Delaney senior – who has 38 previous convictions – but the court was told he could not attend because he is ‘quite ill’ and had to attend an appointment at Cork University Hospital.
‘He had an appointment with the court too,’ said Judge McNulty, who convicted Jim Delaney in his absence of assaulting Gda Duggan; obstructing Gda Duggan; causing criminal damage to a car belonging to Thomas Mongan; and engaging in threatening and abusive words or behaviour.
The judge adjourned the imposition of penalty to the July 14th sitting, at which Jim senior has been instructed to attend.
At 8.30am on May 20th, Gda Duggan said he checked the vehicles parked on the roadside at Reenrour and saw that a number of them had no tax or insurance discs displayed.
Under the provisions of the Road Traffic Act, he said they decided to seize the vehicles and by 9.30am their unit, which included Sgt Michael Bohane, Gda Eleanor Hennessy, Adam Cotter, Sean O’Mhurchú and Michael Kenneally, were at Reenrour with the tow trucks.
Ray Hennessy, solicitor, who was granted free legal aid to defend the accused, cross-examined all of the gardaí about what he described as ‘a heavy-handed and totally over-the-top’ operation. ‘Never in my 40-years, have I come across anything like this,’ he said.
The gardaí confirmed that they had not approached any of the Delaneys before attempting to seize the cars. The cars mentioned in court were, they said, registered to other people. The gardaí gave evidence that one of the vehicles, which had no tax displayed, was loaded onto the recovery truck without incident.
But as they were attempting to seize a white transit van, Jim Delaney and his son Michael stood in front of the vehicle and prevented the gardaí from seizing it.
They said a large crowd of onlookers had gathered and they were in close proximity to where they were carrying out their duties.
The garda said each of the accused were hostile and aggressive, having told them to ‘f*** off,’ as well as calling them ‘paedophiles, rapists and raping bastards.’
Shortly after 10am, a garda witnesses said John Delaney sat on the bonnet of a silver Lexus that had no tax or insurance certificates and refused to get off.
Gda Duggan described Jim senior as highly volatile, a leader in the abuse directed at the gardaí.
It was alleged that John Delaney got into the passenger side of the vehicle and locked the door and that Jim senior attempted to stop the gardaí from seizing the vehicle.
John Delaney is alleged to have started the engine and attempted to drive it off the ramp which caused the wheels to spin and raised a lot of smoke.
According to Gda Duggan, John Delaney accidently unlocked the door and he took the keys.
He said that ‘while doing so, Jim senior grabbed the driver’s door and slammed it off my back.’
It was while attempting to seize a 06 KY Ford Focus that had no tax or insurance discs on display that a vehicle was damaged.
Gda Duggan said Jim senior got on the bonnet of the car causing damage while John Delaney smashed the windscreen with a concrete block, and Michael Delaney kicked the vehicle.
Allegations of vulgar abuse were also levelled at the accused.
‘I am going to f*** your wife,’ Jim Delaney is alleged to have shouted at one garda. ‘She has a lovely little a**. I am going to destroy her insides. Bring her to the halting site to me.’
It was alleged that Jim Delaney spoke about another garda’s wife in vulgar terms too saying, he would ‘break her a** in two with my c***.’
It was further alleged that Jim Delaney turned to all of the gardaí present, pointed at them individually, and said, ‘I am going to find out where you all live and “do” you.’
In evidence in his own defence, James Delaney asked why they were not arrested if their behaviour had been as the gardaí described.
John Delaney told the court he only got into the car he had borrowed the day before to retrieve personal papers. He said it was a push button ignition and there were no keys as stated by the gardaí.
As for the alleged profanity and abuse, he said: ‘It never happened.’
Judge McNulty commented on ‘the appalling language and wicked threats, no doubt made in anger’ and said only custodial sentences would, on this occasion, be appropriate.