A WITNESS was so terrified of an Emo man who had robbed him he claimed he could not remember the details of the robbery because he suffered a brain tumour which affects his memory.
Michael Gleeson, of Morette, Emo, denied robbing Mr Anthony Dunne in Emo on August 17 last year. The court heard that Mr Dunne had his arm in plaster at the time and could not defend himself.
When Mr Dunne took the witness box, he claimed he could not remember much about that day as he had suffered a brain tumour. Judge Staines recommended treating him as a hostile witness, after it emerged that Mr Dunne had previously made a statement to the gardaí outlining the robbery.
Garda Ian Darcy gave details of the statement. Garda Darcy said Mr Dunne contacted him on August 17 and informed him he had been robbed as he left the post office in Emo. Mr Dunne told the garda that he collected his disability allowance of €188, before he paid for groceries and left the shop. Gleeson was outside the shop and he followed Mr Dunne to the bus stop, where he demanded €20 from Mr Dunne. In his statement, Mr Dunne said that after he refused to hand over the money, Gleeson removed his wallet, stole his money and threw the wallet away.
After hearing the garda’s evidence, Mr Dunne was recalled to the witness box. Inspector Harrington asked him whether he can collected €188 disability allowance on the morning of August 17.
“Yeah, I think so,” replied Mr Dunne.
Insp Harrington put it to Mr Dunne that he had left the shop with approximately €150, after paying the store €38 for an outstanding debt. The inspector asked him whether he had made a statement, in which he said that Gleeson had threatened and pushed him. Mr Dunne said he had. The inspector next asked him whether Gleeson had removed Mr Dunne’s wallet, stolen his money and thrown the wallet away.
“I think so,” said Mr Dunne. “I’m not 110% sure as I had a brain tumour.”
In cross-examination from Gleeson’s solicitor, Mr Philip Meagher, Mr Dunne went on to tell the court that he suffers with epilepsy and seizures, and his memory is so bad he has to write things down in a notebook.
Garda Darcy also gave evidence of a statement made by Gleeson. Garda Darcy said Gleeson had made no admissions when he was arrested. In his statement, Gleeson admitted seeing Mr Dunne in Emo and he said he had asked Mr Dunne for €40 which he was owed. Gleeson denied pushing or threatening Mr Dunne, and he claimed that at one point Mr Dunne’s wallet fell to the ground and Gleeson picked it up and gave it back to him. When Gleeson was searched, Garda Darcy said there was €9 on him.
At this point in the case, Mr Meagher made a submission to Judge Staines to strike out the matter. Mr Meagher said that due to Mr Dunne’s difficulty with cognitive recall and the lack of corroborating witnesses, plus the fact that Gleeson was not found with any money, the “evidential threshold” had not been passed. The judge ruled, however, that she was satisfied a robbery had taken place and she pointed out that Gleeson’s own statement provided corroboration, as he had admitted asking for the money and picking up the wallet. She determined that Gleeson had a case to answer to.
Gleeson took the stand and told the court that the robbery did not happen. Gleeson said that Mr Dunne couldn’t move his arm as it was in plaster and as far as he was concerned, Mr Dunne was a friend. He admitted asking Mr Dunne for money and said there was “a bit of shouting and roaring”, but he denied robbing him. Insp Harrington asked him why would his “friend” report a robbery.
“I don’t know, it could be over a girl. I was with his sister for a while - he didn’t like that,” said Gleeson.
After hearing the evidence, Judge Staines said she was satisfied Mr Dunne’s statement was correct and she said it was “absolutely sickening” that a vulnerable man would be treated like this.
“I’m quite satisfied this witness was terrified,” she said.
She sentenced Gleeson, who has 35 previous convictions, to six months in prison.