A FARMER and company director has been found not guilty of criminal damage after appealing the case to the circuit court.
Richard Tierney, aged 56, of Knockroe, Caherconlish pleaded not guilty at the original District Court hearing in Kilmallock last April.
He was found guilty by Judge Mary Larkin of knocking down a wall with a tractor at The Mill, Ballingoola, Grange on October 31, 2012.
Mr Tierney’s solicitor, John Herbert appealed it and the case was heard before Judge Tom O’Donnell on Tuesday, November 19 in Limerick Circuit Court. It lasted over two and a half hours.
The entire case was heard again with witnesses for the state, gardai, two alibi witnesses, Mr Tierney and his son Mark taking the stand.
At the end Judge O’Donnell said there was reasonable doubt and found Mr Tierney not guilty of criminal damage.
At the original case Wiltrude McElligott said she saw a red tractor in the process of pushing a wall into a field at 5.30pm.
The driver was wearing a tight cap pulled into his forehead and a dark grey hoody,” said Ms McElligott.
She said she “assumed it was Richard Tierney”.
The second state witness was Ken Moloney. He said when he saw the driver they weren’t wearing a hat or hoody.
Mr Moloney said the driver was “very similar to Mr Tierney”.
“In my mind I was pretty sure it was Mr Tierney,” said Mr Moloney.
After the tractor passed he noticed that the right brake light was not working.
Referring to Mr Moloney’s statement that the driver “was very similar to Mr Tierney”, Mr Herbert said his client never spoke to Mr Moloney.
“I spoke to him outside my house when there was a horse on my lawn,” said Mr Moloney.
Regarding how sure that it was Mr Tierney at the time of the incident, Mr Moloney said he “wasn’t 100 per cent”.
Investigating garda, Ken O’Day applied for a search warrant and executed it at Mr Tierney’s farm in Knockroe in the early hours of Wednesday, November 28, 2012.
The garda said the right brake light of a red tractor wasn’t working as Mr Moloney stated.
Mr Tierney was arrested and questioned at Bruff garda station. During the interview Mr Tierney stated that the wall was his and denied driving the tractor that knocked it.
Regarding the broken light on his tractor Mr Tierney said bulbs break all the time.
Asked where he was at 5.30pm on October 31, Mr Tierney said he was “possibly on my way home to Caherconlish”.
Mr Herbert called defence witness, Micheal Spillane, owner of a quarry in Borrisokane.
“He [Mr Tierney] was still on site when I was leaving at around ten past five.
“He said he was nearly finished so I asked him to lock up,” said Mr Spillane, who added that he received an invoice with the time and date.
It was put to Mr Spillane how he specifically remembered that date.
Mr Herbert said he contacted Mr Spillane with a request for that date.
The second defence witness was PJ O’Connor from Nenagh. He said Mr Tierney and his son called to him around 5.30pm with an invoice.
The invoice book was produced in court. The state contended it was “completely contrived” and the witnesses were “magic-ed up”.
“That’s a disgraceful accusation,” said Mr Herbert.
In summation the solicitor said the evidence clearly shows Mr Tierney was not in Ballingoola, Grange at the time of the incident on October 31, 2012 and applied for the case to be dismissed.
“Ms McElligott said she assumed it was Mr Tierney. Mr Moloney said the driver was similar to Mr Tierney. The time of the event was dusk.
“Two alibi witnesses travelled from North Tipperary and the provenance of the invoice book is unquestionable,” said Mr Herbert.
The state said Mr Tierney damaged the wall over a dispute over the ownership of the wall,
Judge Larkin said she had heard the evidence and submissions and found the defendant guilty.
In the appeal on November 19 Judge O’Donnell overturned this decision and found Mr Tierney not guilty of criminal damage.