Man charged over Cullohill false imprisonment of child

A man aged in his thirties charged in connection with the false imprisonment of an 11-year-old girl in the Cullohill area has denied that he tried to abduct her.

A man aged in his thirties charged in connection with the false imprisonment of an 11-year-old girl in the Cullohill area has denied that he tried to abduct her.

Last Friday, March 6, before a special sitting of the Portlaoise District Court, Michael Martin (35), with an address listed at 3 Shandon Court, Yellow Road, Waterford, was charged with false imprisonment.

Garda Declan Quinlan gave evidence that there were two charges against Mr Martin. Garda Quinlan said that when he cautioned the accused, Mr Martin replied: “I did not abduct anyone.”

Defence, Ms Anne Manning told the court she had been instructed to seek bail, but the gardaí objected to bail on a number of grounds.

Mr Martin, dressed in a grey hoody and dark grey tracksuit bottoms, took the witness box to say he would appear in court to meet the charge.

However, Judge Catherine Staines said it was one of the most serious charges to come before the court and she refused bail.

Mr Martin was remanded in custody to appear at Cloverhill District Court this Friday, March 13.

Ms Manning said she had serious concerns over the accused’s psychiatric state. Judge Staines ordered a psychiatric report on Mr Martin.

As Mr Martin was led from Portlaoise Courthouse last Friday, there was a considerable garda presence on the street outside the court, where a crowd had gathered. Some members of the public shouted remarks as Mr Martin was being put into a waiting garda car.

The arrest came after a nationwide alert following the incident in Cullohill on March 4, in which a man is alleged to have tried to put an 11-year-old girl into his jeep. She is understood to have been playing with her young brother near the family home at the time.

The gardai in Portlaoise appealed to the public in assisting them to trace the whereabouts of a silver Nissan X-Trail 4x4 vehicle which was believed to have been involved in the incident in Cullohill on March 4 at approximately 11am. This 4x4 was reported stolen in the Kilkenny area on March 3.

The male driver of the vehicle was described as approximately 6’2” of thin build with grey hair. The vehicle was seen acting suspiciously in the area prior to the incident.

A local text alert was put out in the community following the incident, and the principal of Cullohill National School, Ms Anne-Marie Bowe texted all parents requesting them to collect their children after school.

“We did send out a text to all their parents and asked them to pick their children up promptly and they were accompanied by class teachers to the gate,” she said.

Gardaí subsequently arrested a man in Castlecomer, Kilkenny in connection with the attempted abduction and the stolen vehicle was located and recovered by the gardaí.