Brandished golf club and threatened to burn shop

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A probation report has been ordered on an 18-year-old Portlaoise man who threatened a shopkeeper with a golf club and threatened to burn down the man’s shop.

James Heffernan, 18 Clonrooske View, Portlaoise, was charged with assault, possession of an article with intent, and threatening behaviour, at an Treo Nua Community Centre, Portlaoise, on March 16 this year.

Inspector Aidan Farrelly gave evidence that at 2.10pm on the day, Heffernan was prevented from entering the Treo Nua shop by the shopkeeper. Heffernan began abusing the shopkeeper and threatened to cause damage, saying he would burn down the man’s shop. He also said he knew where the injured party lived.Heffernan had a golf club with him and the injured party was put in fear of being assaulted.

“I was in fear I was going to be assaulted,” the injured party told gardaí. “He said he would burn the shop down.”

The court heard that the injured party had “trouble” with Heffernan before.

Defence, Mr Philip Meagher said that Heffernan and a number of other young men had been “chipping balls in the green” with the golf clubs on the day.

Heffernan saw his sister on her way to the shop and he called her over to ask her to get him stuff in the shop, as he knew he was barred. An incident occurred at the shop and his sister was ejected. There were “raised voices” and Heffernan took umbrage.

“He admits shouting and roaring and did threaten the man,” admitted Mr Meagher. “He completely overreacted, he’s sorry for what he did. He didn’t come armed.”

“He’s hanging around with a number of young men well known to the court,” observed Judge Catherine Staines.

Inspector Farrelly concurred, and said the group of young men was “causing untold problems” in the area.

“You’re on a slippery slope,” the judge warned Heffernan. “The only reason you’re not going to prison today is the fact that you have no previous convictions and entered a guilty plea. You have your whole life ahead of you, you’re going to throw it all away. If you’re seen with any of these people again you’ll be in breach of your bail and can be arrested.”

Judge Staines ordered Heffernan to write a letter of apology to the injured party, and she adjourned the case to July 17 for a probation report.


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