A case in which a man persistently harassed members of a neighbouring family threatening to kill one of them has been adjourned so that proper treatment and services can be made available to him.
Judge Raymond Groarke presiding at Galway Circuit Criminal Court expressed concern that the accused Michael Lydon, who has a mild mental handicap, should “languish” in prison, where he certainly didn’t belong, while the HSE and other services failed to provide the care and treatment he so evidently needed.
Twenty-seven-year-old Lydon of Kilroe East, Co Galway, was brought before Judge Groarke last week after pleading guilty to the harassment of Seamus, Patricia, and Bertie Conneely, at Kilroe, and to threatening to kill Seamus Conneely.
According to Garda evidence an incident occured on June 4, 2008, when Lydon had stood at sheds located directly across from the house watching Bertie Conneely working for a number of hours. Lydon had also followed him around the whole village. On another day Bertie’s son Seamus had been driving his car when Lydon chased behind him on his bicycle and jumped out in front of the vehicle.
On June 5, after being warned to stay away Lydon had made a “cut-throat” gesture at Bertie Conneely. Mr Conneely’s son was also threatened when he drove a friend home. Lydon told them that he wanted to kill Seamus and his little brother. It was these threats that prompted the Conneely family to report the matter to the Gardai on June 8. The accused was then taken into custody in July and was not granted bail.
During questioning by State barrister Conor Fahy the court heard that the family were “terrified” because of Lydon’s history. His previous convictions include: burglary, criminal damage, theft, five counts of arson, assault causing harm, and possession of a knife with intent to cause injury.
Defence counsel Ms Geri Silke explained that her client had a “mild mental handicap”, that he had been teased as a child and that “he still thinks people are talking about him”. It was hoped that the Brothers of Charity would make residential accommodation and counselling available to Lydon but Ms Silke said there has been a difficulty as Lydon needs to be re-assessed first and that this can’t be done while he is in custody.
“He is not getting out until I know where he is going to go and who is going to look after him. However, I have no wish from him to stay in jail for a moment longer than is neccessary,” said Judge Groarke.
He then ordered the case to be adjourned to April 1 so that the Probation Services can come up with an alternative. He also ordered a probation report to be prepared advising the appropriate assessment to be carried out either by the HSE or the Brothers of Charity West Galway Adult Services, Lydon’s suitability for treatment, and the services that can be provided.