Man jailed for role in violent disorder outside Dublin school

Clifford Whitehouse (39) attacked van with handle of hatchet after ‘losing his cool’

Clifford Whitehouse (39), of Knockbrack Downs, Drogheda, Co Louth, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to violent disorder at Chapel Street, Balbriggan, Co Dublin,  on November 11th, 2013. File photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters

Clifford Whitehouse (39), of Knockbrack Downs, Drogheda, Co Louth, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to violent disorder at Chapel Street, Balbriggan, Co Dublin, on November 11th, 2013. File photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters

 

A father of four has been jailed for four months for his role in a violent incident outside a Balbriggan school while many people were dropping off their children.

Clifford Whitehouse (39), of Knockbrack Downs, Drogheda, Co Louth, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to violent disorder at Chapel Street in the town on November 11th, 2013.

The incident happened at 9am as a large number of parents and children, including infants in prams, were on their way to school. Ten of those people later gave witness statements to gardaí.

Judge Martin Nolan sentenced Whitehouse to 16 months in prison, suspending the final 12 months. He added Whitehouse had come to the school “armed and ready for trouble”.

Swipe at van

Garda John Farrelly told Lorcan Staines BL, prosecuting, that Whitehouse’s only role in the incident was to swipe at a van with the handle of an axe.

He confirmed that while the windscreen of the van was smashed, Whitehouse was not responsible for this.

Whitehouse was later arrested and told gardaí he had agreed to go to the school that morning to act as security because threats had been issued against members of his family.

He said a hand gesture was made at him and he “lost his cool”, so he attacked the van in question with the handle of a hatchet.

Whitehouse accepted it was a serious incident, and said had he been walking with his children that day he would have been afraid.

Garda Farrelly confirmed Whitehouse has 34 previous convictions for burglary, road traffic offences, theft, possession of a knife and robbery.

‘Genuine fear’

He agreed with Rebecca Smith BL, defending, that Whitehouse had “exhibited genuine fear” during his Garda interview.

Garda Farrelly accepted it had been Whitehouse’s brother, who has since died, that asked him to come along with him that day.

Ms Smith said her client had one child from a marriage, another child from a second relationship and two children with his current partner.

She said Whitehouse was greatly affected by the death of his father in 2009 and also by the death of his second partner in 2007.

Counsel said when his partner passed away Whitehouse started to abuse cannabis, but has since tackled that addiction and is now drug-free.

She told Judge Nolan that her client accepts his behaviour on the day was reckless.