Men must make second newspaper apology for burning garda’s hedge

Two men who were directed by Judge Mary Devins to publicly apologise to a garda for an arson attack on the perimeter hedge at his private home had their apology, which was published in a local newspaper, described by Judge Devins at Ballina District Court last week as “mealy-mouthed, self-serving, cowardly and weasel words”.

Judge Devins ordered the defendants, Darren Gilmartin, Carrowrum, Bonniconlon, Ballina and Jonathan Mears, Newtown, Bonniconlon, Ballina to draft a second apology and also publish it in a local newspaper before adjourning the matter until December 9 next. The defendants were also directed by Judge Devins at the initial court hearing last month to carry out voluntary work in Bonniconlon and to produce evidence both of doing the work and of seeking it. Both men told Judge Devins that they had carried out work on the grounds of the Bonniconlon Show and that there was sufficient work for them there for the duration of the three months as set out by Judge Devins.

Judge Devins said her instructions at the sentencing court were very specific and the two defendants had already breached two conditions by the nature of the apology and by the delay in having it published. She said a mother of one of the defendants had called to the Courts Office and complained about the legibility of the writing of the staff. “Where was that mother when her son was carrying out such a cowardly act on the home of Garda Prendergast?” she said.

Defending solicitor for Gilmartin and Mears told Judge Devins that his clients had drafted the apology together. He accepted that it was not as “fulsome” as required but he said he did not believe that was intentional. “The delay in getting it published was not intentional as my clients understood that it had to be published in the edition prior to today’s court,” he said. Mr Gannon said both men were prepared to draft and publish a second apology which would be more fulsome and which would cause even further embarrassment for both men. He said that neither man wanted to go to jail.

A third defendant, Brian Egan, Graff, Attymass, Ballina had his apology accepted by Judge Devins as being “respectful”. He told Judge Devins in court last week that he had carried out voluntary work at the Bonniconlon Show Grounds and also with the Tidy Towns committee in Bonniconlon. Judge Devins said she would adjourn his case until February but she warned him to continue to carry out the voluntary work and if she was not satisfied that he had done so he would go to prison.


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