“I know your in-laws can sometimes land upon you, but this is hardly an appropriate response.”
So said Judge Tony Hunt, in the case of a man convicted of swinging a slash-hook during a family fight in the street.
Before the recent circuit court was Patrick McInerney, 26 Burrin Manor, Tullow Road, Carlow, who was appealing a four-month sentence imposed on him in the district court, after being convicted of the production of an article with the intent to cause injury, at the Block Road, Portlaoise, on February 20 this year.
Gardaí received a report of males fighting at 1pm on that date, with one of the men swinging a slash-hook.
When the gardaí arrived, they found three men standing on the footpath and a slash-hook was found in the grass nearby. McInerney admitted he had produced the slash-hook to protect himself.
McInerney has 51 previous convictions, including public order offences, thefts, criminal damage and violent disorder.
Defence, Mr Simon McDonald explained that the incident arose out of a family dispute and the other people involved had been McInerney’s in-laws.
“That makes it worse,” remarked Judge Hunt.
Mr McDonald said there had been bad blood between the parties, but there had not been “a feud”.
He said that McInerney had felt “confronted by his in-laws” on the day. Since then, the parties have made up and McInerney, who is married with four children, had admitted the entire situation to the gardaí.
Mr McDonald said that McInerney had the slash-hook as he had been fencing with his brother the day before.
“Fencing?” inquired Judge Hunt.
“Fixing fences,” replied defence.
“Ah, that kind of fencing,” said the judge.
Judge Hunt asked what else a slash-hook was used for, to which Mr McDonald replied that they are used to cut back bushes. Defence went on to say that McInerney is now father to a new baby.
“Yes, the fourth one,” noted Judge Hunt, adding: “The arrival of the last babies didn’t slow him down.”
Judge Hunt asked what was wrong with the sentence imposed by the district court, especially considering McInerney’s long list of previous convictions.
“In a way, he could have got worse,” said the judge.
Mr McDonald replied that McInerney and his in-laws are now co-existing happily.
“He’s turning over a new leaf,” said defence.
“He’s not going to use a slash-hook, is he, to turn over a new leaf?” asked Judge Hunt wryly.
The judge said he was going to give McInerney “something to contemplate” and he increased the original sentence to ten months, suspended for 12 months on condition McInerney keep the peace and be of good behaviour.