An elderly farmer who drove a digger at neighbours and Gardai, dug up a road and knocked down an eircom pole on account of a 25-year land dispute, was partially successful in the Circuit Court this week (July 21 ) when he had a decision on his 15-year driving ban postponed until next June.
Before Judge Anthony Kennedy in the Circuit Court in Athlone was Michael Corroon (73 ) from Knockmant, Killucan, who was appealing the driving ban handed down to him in the Mullingar District Court on May 21 after his behaviour on September 2, 2008.
When the quarter century dispute with his neighbours, the Colgan family, came to a head on that day, Corroon drove a loading shovel at his neighbour, then at the Gardai when they were called.
He went on to dig up 86m of road, cause €2,200 worth of damage when he knocked down an adjoining eircom pole and then barricaded himself into his home, refusing to come out for a number of hours.
“He has an obsession with property as if he is going to bring it all up to the place of his eternal departure,” suggested Judge John Neilan, in the District Court last month.
“If he got the entire county of Westmeath he would still want the county next door.”
On that date he sentenced Corroon to 11 months in prison on one count of reckless endangerment and a consecutive 11 months for criminal damage, but postponed them until June 6, 2010 to allow the court assess Mr Corroon’s progress.
Judge Neilan also added a 15-year driving ban, which Corroon's legal team appealed this week.
His barrister, Mr Corrigan, claimed the driving ban was unsafe because “My client didn't drive on a public road”.
“There are 15 sections for [driving] disqualification and this doesn't fit into any. This was in his field.”
On behalf of the State, Peter D Jones, pointed out that a disqualification can be imposed on foot of behaviour “where people have a right of way”, and used the example of a shopping centre.
“It's a tricky line,” said Judge Anthony Kennedy, pointing out that it was an ancient right of way across private land.
As an example, Judge Kennedy cited the case of Phoenix Park in Dublin which had to have a special law made to allow for citizens to be arrested for drink driving within its boundaries.
“Best put it off until post-June 11, 2010, with your client not disqualified until then,” said the judge.