A 22-YEAR-old man who pleaded guilty to breaking windows at Dunmanway Garda Station just before Christmas last year has avoided a custodial sentence.
But he was told by a District Court Judge that his behaviour was ‘truly outrageous’ and that his conduct was ‘nothing short of scandalous’.
Thomas Douglas, who lived at Cousane Gap, Dunmanway at the time of the incident, appeared at Clonakilty District Court this week to face a criminal damage charge at Dunmanway Garda Station on December 17th last year, causing €570.30 worth of damage.
Sgt Paul Kelly told Judge Keane that the defendant has previous convictions but none for criminal damage and his most recent conviction was for theft, which was heard at Cork city District Court on July 4th of this year where he was ordered to carry out 240 hours of community service.
Representing Mr Douglas, solicitor Eamonn Fleming told the court that the incident occurred in the company of two others who have since absconded the jurisdiction and he described them as the ‘main drivers’ of the attack on the garda station, which saw two men wearing balaclavas and, armed with a metal bar, smash the station’s windows.
‘My client was homeless at the time and he ended up staying in a caravan with them and they had a lot of drink consumed that day and went into town,’ said Mr Fleming.
‘He was identified by a ring on his finger and by his footwear on CCTV and without his admissions the State would have had difficulty in identifying him.’
Mr Fleming added that his client made a cautioned admission during interviews with gardaí, which the other two didn’t.
‘He was the lesser of the parties involved and that’s the garda view too. He was certainly influenced by people and there was a lot of drink taken and it was bravado and causing attention to themselves.’
Mr Fleming said his client, who is unemployed and living in Rosscarbery with his girlfriend, is currently undertaking 240 hours of community service following his conviction for theft in July, where he is weeding and painting buildings around West Cork.
‘It’s out of character for him and he has pleaded at an early stage and without his admission, identification would not have been possible.
‘He has accepted responsibility and he is a person who is easily-led and he does seem to be making an effort and is benefitting from his involvement with the Probation Services,’ said Mr Fleming. Mr Fleming added that, given time, his client could pay for the damage to the windows at the Garda station. Judge Marie Keane said the defendant’s behaviour was ‘truly outrageous and to carry out conduct like that was nothing short of scandalous.’
‘There is a loss to the State of almost €600 and there has been no attempt to pay it back since,’ said Judge Keane, who sentenced Mr Douglas to three months in prison but suspended it for 12 months.
‘If you come to the attention of the gardaí again, you will go to Cork prison,’ warned Judge Keane.