A 15-year-old Laois youth who allegedly smashed the windows of a woman’s house and flicked a lit cigarette at her face in an escalating campaign of intimidation has been remanded in custody due to fears for the woman’s safety.
At last week’s sitting of Portlaoise District Court, the youth, who cannot be named due to his age, was charged with assault, on March 27, and criminal damage, on March 14, at a location in Portlaoise.
Garda evidence outlined that on March 14 this year, it was alleged the accused smashed the front window of the injured party’s house, causing €300 of damage.
On March 27 this year, the accused allegedly flicked a lit cigarette at the injured party’s face.
The State said it feared that the accused might interfere with witnesses if granted bail.
Garda evidence said that the accused had allegedly threatened the injured party’s partner with a hammer and had damaged the injured party’s car, causing €500 damage.
It was also alleged that the accused smashed the upstairs window of the woman’s house on March 20. The injured party is in such fear she has had to leave the house on a number of occasions.
The garda further gave evidence that during that afternoon’s court, family members of the accused made attempts to intimidate the injured party by pointing in at her.
Defence solicitor, Mr Barry Fitzgerald asked would the State’s fears be allayed if the accused gave a commitment to stay away from the injured parties, but the garda replied he would not at all be satisfied with that.
The garda said that the incidents have been escalating and he believed the accused would cause further harm. The garda expressed his concerns for the safety of the injured party.
Mr Fitzgerald said it was accepted there were ongoing difficulties between the accused and the injured party, who is a neighbour of the accused’s mother.
Mr Fitzgerald claimed that the injured party had been “voicing concerns” about the accused’s behaviour and the accused came to hear of this, which led to resentment on his part.
Mr Fitzgerald also handed in a psychiatrist’s letter on the accused.
Sgt Justine Reilly also gave evidence on behalf of the State. She said that at 12.27pm that day, during the sitting of the court, a family member of the accused was observed pointing at and acting in an intimidating manner towards the injured party.
She told the court that the accused does not have a diagnosed mental condition, but has a form of impulse control disorder. She said the accused’s parents had contacted the gardaí on a number of occasions to have him removed from the house, and his relationship with Tusla has broken down.
Sgt Reilly said that the accused’s impulse disorder is a personality characteristic and not a diagnosed medical issue.
To this, Mr Fitzgerald said that a medical report on the accused would give more detail.
The injured party gave evidence, saying that whenever she and her partner leave the house the accused intimidates them and calls them names.
“He never leaves the house,” she said.
The witness said she was the victim of an unprovoked attack and alleged that she had been threatened by the accused’s father, who tried to hit her with nunchucks. She also alleged the accused had broken the windows in a neighbour’s house.
“There’s not one day I Ieave my house he isn’t standing outside. Why he sees us as a target now I have no idea,” she said.
The witness also denied commenting on the accused’s behaviour to others, saying: “I keep myself to myself.”
After hearing the evidence, Judge Catherine Staines said that only in very rare circumstances is a child remanded in custody, but she was satisfied that if he was granted bail he would continue to intimidate the injured party.
Refusing bail, the accused was remanded in custody to April 11 next, for a psychiatric report and a report from Tusla.
As the accused was led from the courtroom, a disturbance occurred in the foyer of the court building. It was quickly defused by the gardaí and prison staff and the accused was taken to the holding cells.