Comment: Judge Tom O’Donnell
THREE members of the same family who engaged in “mob rule” by terrorising the occupants of a local authority house have been warned they may go to prison.
Judge Tom O’Donnell made his comments in the case of the three men who admitted smashing a number of windows at a house in Thomondgate during an incident on November 28, 2015.
Brothers Patrick O’Halloran, aged 28, and Bobby O’Halloran, aged 26, both of Stenson Close, Farranshone and their cousin Andrew O’Halloran, aged 26, of Cashel’s Lane Thomondgate each pleaded guilty to charges of criminal damage while Andrew O’Halloran and Bobby O’Halloran also admitted possession of a hammer on the same date.
Garda Gavin Fisher said gardai were alerted to the incident at Altimira Court at around 10am and that when he arrived he observed the living room window and front door has been smashed.
The defendants were quickly identified as suspects as gardai were aware of a dispute between them and one of the occupants of the house.
Limerick Circuit Court was told there were a number of people in the house when the defendants arrived – including a number of young children.
John O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, compared what happened to “something out of the Vikings in Medieval times” saying: “It was a ferocious attack during which windows were put in and weapons used”.
Garda Fisher said the defendants were identified by a young woman who was in the house at the time and that fragments of glass from the broken windows were similar to fragments found in clothing seized from Bobby O’Halloran.
The court was told there have been no further incidents since and that the cost of reparing the doors and window was almost €2,000.
Lawyers representing each of the defendants said their clients were apologetic and that their guilty pleas were significant. They also confirmed that €1,500 has been raised in compensation.
Giving testimonial evidence in support of the three defendants Linda Ledger, manager of St Munchins Community Centre, said all three men volunteer at the community centre and have “come on a lot” in recent times.
Judge O’Donnell noted there appears to be local knowledge of the incident and that he was concerned that the “condemnation of what they did is somewhat reticent”.
He said it was unacceptable that the house had been subjected to mob rule because the defendants wanted to “interview” one of the occupants.
Adjourning the matter to October he warned he is keeping “all of my options” open.