A MAN graffiti painted his ex-partner’s home and then went driving around Castletown shouting death threats at residents, before he set fire to his own car and drove it to the house of the woman’s sister where he made more threats to kill.
Judge Tony Hunt said that Michael Condon’s actions almost beggared belief, when Condon appeared before the judge at the recent circuit court charged with criminal damage, threatening to kill and dangerous driving. The court heard from Garda John Paul O’Brien, led by State prosecutor, Mr Will Fennelly, that the offences were committed in Castletown on April 23 last year.
Condon and the injured party had two children and had been living together for a number of years, but after they separated Condon was not coping well. On the day, while his ex-partner was out, Condon was seen painting graffiti on the front of her house and the front door was kicked in, although it was not known if he had entered the property.
Residents of the area then saw him doing handbrake turns in his car while shouting abuse, with a number of residents telling gardaí that Condon shouted, “I’m going to burn you out of your houses”, and “You’re all a shower of bastards in this village”.
Condon then set fire to the passenger seat of his car and drove it to his ex-partner’s sister’s house, where he parked the vehicle in the driveway. The sister was sitting in her own car at the time and she jumped out when Condon arrived. Condon began shouting at her, “You f**king c**t, I told you I’d kill you if you contacted the gardaí”. Her car caught fire and some of the neighbours arrived to push Condon’s car out of the driveway before it exploded.
The woman’s car was written off in the fire and it cost €5,000 to replace. There was also damage caused to her house, at a cost of €1,000. Garda O’Brien said the injured party was absolutely terrified when she made her statement and a protection order is now in place.
Garda O’Brien said that when arrested, Condon declined to answer any questions during interview. He remained aggressive and intimidating when charged, saying, “How can you get fingerprints from a burning car?”, and “How can people make statements with their heads blown off?”
Condon has numerous previous convictions, including several threats to kill, assaults and animal cruelty.
According to medical reports he has a psychiatric history and has regularly come to garda attention.
“We’ve been keeping a very strict eye on him,” said Garda O’Brien. “He’s been banned from the radius of Castletown.”
Defence for Condon, Mr Colm Hennessy said he knew it was a terrifying incident for all involved, but after Condon parked the burning car he had simply ran away from the scene.
“Yes, after the charming language he used,” said Garda O’Brien.
Mr Hennessy admitted that his client had demonstrated “profound erratic behaviour”.
“It speaks for itself,” interjected Judge Hunt. “Sitting in a car on fire and driving it, it almost beggars belief.
This was a pretty horrific incident and if it happened to me and my wife I’d expect similar remarks... This behaviour is very serious indeed.”
Mr Hennessy said that Condon had suffered a relapse of his underlying psychotic illness at the time.
“Nothing I can say will allay the terrifying experience of the injured party,” admitted Mr Hennessy. “He fully accepts he is responsible for it, but the recollection is simply not there.”
“If someone tells me they have absolutely no memory of a highly volatile incident, an eyebrow is raised,” retorted the judge.
“He fully understands the gravity of his actions,” said Mr Hennessy. “We’ve canvassed an apology but the injured party has refused it.”
“She’s fully entitled to take the view she doesn’t want to see hide or hair of him again,” said Judge Hunt, adding that it spoke highly of her that she was still prepared to enter into a voluntary arrangement with Condon allowing him access to their children.
Judge Hunt said Condon’s behaviour deserves a custodial sentence, but he ruled that he would give the probation services a chance to look into the case.
The matter was put back to April 23, with Condon to make himself available for medical examination if required by probation. Judge Hunt also said he wanted the gardaí to keep a very close eye on Condon and said that he would follow suit by keeping an eye on Condon himself.
Condon was remanded on bail, with conditions that he must reside with his mother, he must stick to a curfew of 10pm to 8am, sign on daily at the garda station, keep the peace, and have no contact with his ex-partner or any witnesses in the case. He must also attend with his doctor.