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Judge asks why man needs pump action shotgun in West Cork

December 1st, 2018 1:06 PM

By Southern Star Team

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A MAN who threatened to ‘slap a bullet’ into his neighbour’s head has been given a 90-day suspended sentence.

John Young – who is living 500 yards from the house that Steven Farthing had rented from his parents at Curraghlickey, Drinagh – gave evidence against the accused at Clonakilty District Court recently.

The witness for the prosecution said he called to the house on August 22nd 2017 because Steven Farthing’s dogs had been barking all night and had kept his children awake.

John Young said the accused became agitated and confrontational and threatened to ‘put a bullet through my head and blow my fucking brains out, in the name of Her Majesty.’

He said he became frightened because the accused had guns in the house, so took off in his tractor and called the guards. He also admitted to Ray Hennessy – the solicitor for the accused – that he went to his solicitor, the very next day, to make his will. 

John Young said the situation was fraught with difficulty because his parents were in the process of having the accused evicted for non-payment of rent.

Mr Young said he could not comment on Mr Hennessy’s submission that the 15-year tenancy only ‘soured’ after his client had asked his parents to sign forms in respect of rent allowance.

The court was told that Steven Farthing did move out of the house and that he lived, for a time, at The Bungalow in Clancool, Bandon, but is now living at Bridge
Street, Skibbereen. 

The accused refuted John Young’s version of events. He said John Young came to his house and, with the tractor still running, threatened to drive through the front wall, scoop up his belongings, and bury them in a bog.

Steven Farthing admitted there was a verbal exchange and – in both his statement to the gardaí and in his evidence in court – he admitted saying he would ‘slap a bullet’ in John Young’s head and let the surgeons sort him out.

The accused said there was nothing serious or sinister in the threat. He said it was just words. 

Steven Farthing said the comment was made in response to John Young’s declaration that he was ‘willing to die’ during their altercation.

Gda Sean O’Sullivan gave evidence that there had been previous issues between the parties in relation to dogs barking, dogs being chained on Steven Farthing’s land, and horses wandering on the road, but, on this occasion, he said John Young appeared to be ‘genuinely terrified.’

Gda O’Sullivan and Det Gda Maurice Shanley arrested the accused in Dunmanway the following day. 

Steven Farthing fully co-operated with the gardaí and freely offered up his three firearms – one of which was a pump-action shotgun – as well as 222 cartridges and 64 Remington bullets.

Gda Tim Forde, who is stationed in Drinagh, told the court that there had been animal welfare issues in the past and that the animal control services had been called in. 

He also testified that he was at Curraghlickey at 4am one morning when a horse had to be put down by a vet.

In response to Mr Hennessy’s submission that the gardaí did not act on counter-allegations made against John Young, Gda Forde said a file on all matters was sent to the DPP and the DPP instructed that one charge – a charge of making a threat to kill or cause serious harm to John Young – be brought against Steven Farthing.

In evidence, the guard said he had received conflicting statements from the accused. On one hand, he said Steven Farthing claimed there had never been any issues until the rent forms were presented, and, on the other, Steven Farthing accused John Young of a 15-year campaign of intimidation. ‘I couldn’t get any clarity,’ said Gda Forde. 

In evidence in his own defence, Steven Farthing said he was illegally evicted from the house in Drinagh. But when he was questioned by Judge James McNulty, he acknowledged that the matter had been the subject of Circuit Court proceedings and that the Circuit Court judge had ordered him to vacate the premises.

Steven Farthing also alleged that when John Young came to his door he said he had ‘come to die’ and that his reply to that was: ‘I have heard of a man giving his life for king and queen, but not this.’

The accused told the court that he had been able to remove one lorryload of his possessions from the property at Curraghlickey, but when he went back for the rest of his possessions, the door had been barricaded. 

Judge McNulty summed up the proceedings, saying: ‘A lot of the evidence was backstory, but the charge before the court is an allegation that the accused made a threat to kill or cause serious harm.’

He said there were inconsistencies in the accused’s evidence but Steven Farthing had admitted making a threat to shoot John Young.

Judge McNulty convicted Steven Farthing but noted, in mitigation, that he is 67 years old, living on a disability allowance, and had willingly surrendered his weapons to the gardaí.

But he did question why the accused needed a pump-action shotgun in rural West Cork, and he described the weapons haul as ‘a little arsenal.’

The 90-day sentence was suspended on the condition that Steven Farthing enter into a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for the next two years.

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