Man criminally damaged broadband tranmission equipment on hill

An American man who came to Ireland as a volunteer organic farmer but became involved in protesting in north Mayo caused more than €5,000 damage to broadband transmission equipment and fencing on Dooncarton Hill in Erris.

Thomas Byrne, no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to putting the broadband transmission equipment out of action and damaging Irish Aviation Authority fencing at the same site on November 17, 2013.

Judge Denis McLoughlin, at Belmullet District Court, heard Byrne came to Ireland in July 2011 with the purpose of becoming a volunteer organic farmer with an organisation called WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms ).

He resided for a short period in Donegal but more recently travelled to Belmullet, where he became a protestor.

Solicitor Mark Loftus said his client was living in a camp in Belmullet and then moved to a hostel. He was told he could no longer stay at the hostel and vented his frustration by damaging the broadband transmission equipment and fencing.

Mr Loftus said his client was a ‘man of no means’. However, he could undertake to leave the country within two weeks.

Judge McLoughlin noted the defendant had been in custody since November 23.

He imposed a six month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

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