A Laois man found guilty of his part in violent disorder in a Portlaosie housing estate, in which a couple’s home was attacked and pelted with objects and the front door smashed, has been given a three-year sentence with the final two years suspended.
Before the recent Portlaoise Circuit Court was James Kelly a.k.a. James Ryan, 23, o f 21 Tuomy Park, Mountmellick.
He stood trial last December on charges of aggravated burglary; production of an article; damaging property; threatening to damage property; violent disorder; and assault, at St Brigids Place, Portlaoise, on February 27, 2015.
He was found not guilty on the charge of aggravated burglary by direction of the trial judge, and acquitted by the jury on the charge of threatening to damage property.
He was found guilty on the other four charges and the matter was adjourned to March 19 for sentencing.
During the trial, 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.
Mr James Doyle, the husband of Anita Burtenshaw, also gave evidence.
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.
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.
When the case returned to court for sentencing last week, the victim impact statement of Ms Burtenshaw was read out.
She said that she had stopped feeling safe in the house and is constantly checking that the doors are locked. She also said she won’t answer the door if her husband is not home.
Ms Burtenshaw gave an account of seeing the accused in her work place on one occasion and she felt sick and weak, but fortunately he did not recognise her. She said she had to get a transfer to a different shop after this.
“He has left his mark on our life,” she said.
On the violent disorder charge, Judge Keenan Johnson imposed a three-year sentence, with the final two years suspended for five years on condition the accused enter into a peace bond for five years; he remain under probation supervision for 12 months post release; he deal with his addiction issues and abstain from alcohol and drugs, providing urinalysis when called on to do so; he attend anger management; he pay €1,500 compensation; and he have no contact with the injured party.