A Laois man has been found guilty of his part in violent disorder in a local housing estate, in which a couple’s home was attacked and pelted with objects and the front door smashed.
At Portlaoise Circuit Court, James Kelly a.k.a. James Ryan, 23, of 21 Tuomy Park, Mountmellick, was found guilty by jury trial of production of an article; damaging property; violent disorder; and assault, at St Brigids Place, Portlaoise, on February 27, 2015.
Ms Anita Burtenshaw gave evidence that she was in her home with her brother, Eamon and sister, Allison, when she saw a man named Christopher O’Brien motion as though he was going to smash the window of her sister’s car, which was parked outside the house.
After a confrontation involving Ms Burtenshaw, her sister and her husband on one side, and Mr O'Brien and another man on the other side, Christopher O’Brien left, telling them he would be back. He came back about an hour and a half later and remained at the garden wall, said the witness.
Ms Burtenshaw told the court that the front door of the house opened so she ran over and grabbed it. She heard someone say “Who do you think you are?” and a foot came in the door, then she saw a sewer rod being swung and the glass in the door smashed.
She told the court that the accused had the sewer rod. Her husband came running down the stairs and out the door with a stick, which he used to back two men out of the garden.
Mr O’Brien, the accused and the third man then returned with a number of items including a shovel and turf. She said the men threw the shovel at them and threatened to burn them out.
Ms Burtenshaw’s sister, Allison, and her brother, Eamon, gave evidence in relation to the first incident. Mr James Doyle, the husband of Anita Burtenshaw, then gave evidence.
In relation to the second incident, Mr Doyle said that Mr O’Brien was present with two other men, one of whom was wearing a blue hoody. He said the men had weapons, so he picked up a pickaxe handle he had left behind the door after the first incident and went outside.
He said that the man in the blue hoody had a sewer rod and timber at one stage. He said that the men threw items including sticks, turf, and a spade head, and he suffered injuries .
During cross examination by defence, Mr Damien Colgan SC, Mr Doyle denied Mr O'Brien's claim that Mr Doyle had a weapon in his hand during the first incident.
“He’s a liar,” said Mr Doyle.
Christopher O’Brien, who told the court he had about 90 previous convictions, gave evidence on behalf of the defence.
He said that on the day Eamon Burtenshaw drove past and began “mouthing something” at him, so they began arguing.
He said that James Doyle then came out “swinging something” and said “You’re not so f**king big now”, before Mr Doyle pulled a knife out of his back pocket.
Mr O’Brien claimed that James Kelly was on the other side of the road during this.
He denied making any threats to the Burtenshaws.
In cross-examination for the State by Mr Will Fennelly, Mr O’Brien confirmed that he had pleaded guilty in the district court to a charge of violent disorder in relation to this incident.
“When you pleaded guilty, you named Mr Kelly,” said Mr Fennelly.
“I pleaded guilty to what I done,” replied the witness.
“You’re a menace around the town of Portlaoise,” said Mr Fennelly,
“I’m not the one on trial,” replied the witness.
“You wouldn’t know the truth if it walked in the door and walked on top of you,” said Mr Fennelly.
“You know nothing about me,” replied Mr O’Brien.
“I think we know enough about you,” said Mr Fennelly.
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