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Woman’s behaviour ‘could have left children orphaned’

Friday, 11th October, 2019 1:03pm
Woman’s behaviour ‘could have left children orphaned’

A MAN who threatened to rape and burn the children of a garda has been sentenced to 60 days in prison.

‘I am disgusted with myself for saying those things,’ Willow Cleary (23) of Cappaghglass, Ballydehob, told Judge James McNulty at Bantry District Court.

Willow Cleary was so ‘out of it’ he was shocked – ‘absolutely mortified’ – when he read the garda’s statement, according to his solicitor, Ray Hennessy. Gda Jonathan McCarthy gave evidence that he had warned the accused, and his friend Leanne Schwarz, not to drive his car on the night of July 18th 2019.

However, the garda said a short time after he had parked at Main St, Ballydehob, the car – driven by Leanne Schwarz – shot past him at speed at 10.20pm. ‘The night was very wet and misty and the roads are very narrow,’ said the garda, ‘and there were no lights on in the car.’ 

Initially, he said, he lost sight of the car after turning a corner, but subsequently caught up with them at Cappaghglass and attempted to arrest the female driver.

The garda said Willow Cleary became abusive and started pushing him out of the way. ‘He started shouting: “What the fuck are you doing?”, and I advised him to get back, saying I’d talk to him later. ‘Things got a bit tough and I told him to keep back. I had to pepper-spray him because he was pushing me around the place,’ said the garda, who said he was on his own and in a remote area.

Gda McCarthy said the use of the pepper-spray ‘worked’ and the driver was arrested. He then arrested Willow Cleary and it was while he was being brought to the garda station that the accused started making threats.

Gda McCarthy had told the court that the threats would not be appropriate to repeat in court, but he was pressed by Judge McNulty, so he gave evidence that Willow Clearly kept repeating “I will rape your children and burn them”.

In cross-examination by Ray Hennessy, the garda admitted he did not take the threats seriously and that the accused was ‘out of it’. He also acknowledged that Willow Cleary had apologised.

Evidence of the accused man’s previous convictions were outlined. In December 2016, he was put on probation for three years in respect of public order offences.

Judge McNulty observed that the accused had ‘not learned the lesson of leniency’ and he described the threats that he made as ‘dark and serious’. He sentenced the accused to 60 days’ jail for engaging in threatening and abusive words and behaviour. The accused was also sentenced to five months for obstructing Gda McCarthy, but that was suspended on condition that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour for the next two years. On a charge of being drunk in a public place, the accused was fined €200.

Ray Hennessy also appeared on behalf of Leanne Schwarz of Cul na Greine, Bantry, a 26-year-old single mother with three children under the age of 10. 

Mr Hennessy said she was pleading guilty to driving while disqualified; a charge of drunk driving; and driving without insurance – a charge for which she was fined €300 and disqualified from driving for a period of two years.

Her solicitor argued that she had done ‘a good thing’ by taking the keys from Willow Cleary and added: ‘No good deed goes unpunished.’ Gda McCarthy acknowledged that she ‘tried her best to calm the situation’ and had co-operated ‘100%’.

Sgt Brian Harte, for the prosecution, outlined to the court that she had been disqualified because she had previously accumulated 15 penalty points for speeding offences, holding a mobile phone while driving, and not wearing a safety belt.

Judge McNulty said he was ‘appalled at her lack of responsibility – it could have been a double fatality with three children orphaned. Both were cautioned by a guard observing them, a guard who had cautioned them not to drive.’

He convicted her on the no insurance charge but adjourned the other two charges to November 28th sitting of Bantry Court for the production of a probation report.

The judge also asked the probation officer ‘to have a close look at this woman … and consider whether social services should be alerted.’

The final matter to be dealt with by the court was a charge against Willow Cleary of being the owner of a vehicle used by another without insurance.

Mr Hennessy argued: ‘The keys were taken off of him,’ but Judge McNulty said the accused was ‘not comatose.’ He convicted Willow Cleary and fined him €500 and disqualified him from driving for three years.

Willow Cleary was not, however, taken into custody to serve the 60-day sentence because Mr Hennessy asked that recognisances be fixed for an appeal.