Man shot at in taxi claims bail conditions made him ‘sitting duck’

Man fails in attempt to be released from custody on bail

Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

A man who was shot at in a taxi last week and who claimed his bail conditions made him a “sitting duck” for attack has failed in his bid to be released from custody again on bail.

The man, who is in his 20s and cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested on foot of a warrant on Sunday and had been in custody since then after initially being granted bail last May.

On Tuesday the High Court heard that strict conditions were set out when he was granted bail last year. These included that he must reside at a specific address, adhere to a curfew, sign on twice daily at the same Garda station and be available to the Garda by mobile phone. Since his bail was granted almost eight months ago he had breached his bail conditions 41 times.

After being shot at last Monday while in a taxi he ran to the Garda station but then had failed to sign on for several days. He claimed in court that the breaches of his bail were restrictive and made him an easier target for attack. The man also attributed the breaches of his bail to the fact he had been “chopping and changing” his routine.

He argued before Ms Justice Eileen Creedon of the High Court that while his bail conditions were restrictive and did not allow him vary his routine, he had been warned by the Garda that his life was in danger and that he should vary his daily routine for his own safety.

He further stated, in evidence he gave to the court himself and in representations on his behalf by Lily Buckley BL, that while his bail conditions specified he must reside at a stated address gardaí had told him that he must not return to that house because being there posed a risk to his life.

However, Ms Justice Creedon said it was clear bail conditions had been repeatedly breached and that revocation of the bail granted last May was warranted. She remanded the man in custody to appear before Drogheda District Court on Friday, January 24th.

He faces charges of criminal damage and possession of a stolen vehicle and the bail that has now been revoked by the High Court was granted to him in relation to those charges on May 24th, 2019.

The man wanted to be freed from custody on bail and also told the High Court on Tuesday that if the conditions of the bail were made less restrictive he could comply with them and also vary his routine for safety purposes.

He believed that would be possible if he was permitted to reside at a choice of two addresses, if he could sign on at his choice of two Garda stations and was permitted to sign on at either station once rather than twice daily. He had been given an official warning last April by the Garda that his life was in danger.

He said he had also been told several times since then that his life was in danger. “If it was once a day and maybe [a choice of] two Garda stations, I would be less predictable,” the man told the High Court on Tuesday of new signing on conditions it might set down in granting him bail. “If I could have two [specified] addresses it would be less predictable,” he suggested. “It’s unfair to punish me for taking the precautions I was told to take,” he added in reference to his view that the bail conditions set down last May were at odds with the advice he had been given to vary his routine because his life was in danger.

He suggested that being shot at while in a taxi arose because his bail conditions were so restrictive his movements were predictable.

“I need to be less predictable, I can’t be showing my face out too much,” he said, adding he could not even take a taxi now after what had happened last week. He argued his “hands had been forced into this” in relation to breaching his bail conditions and not signing on at a Garda station in the days after the effort to shoot him.

All he was asking the court was to be “met in middle” in being granted bail on conditions he could comply with and which would also allow him vary his movements for his own safety as gardaí had advised.

Ms Buckley, for the man, said her client would “have to be very much a creature of habit” if he was to comply with the bail conditions set out last May. After evidence was heard that he was shot at last week Ms Buckley said a particular “situation had now become very visible” for the man.

She added that complying with the bail conditions set down last year made her client “in effect a target, a sitting duck”.

She urged the court to grant more flexible bail conditions to him because of “the unprecedented circumstances that had arisen”.

While the court was told the man had “ballistic glass” – bullet proof glass – at the property his bail conditions specified he must reside at, even coming to the window to investigate calls to the door late at night or the early hours of the morning represented a danger. Ms Buckley suggested that was why on some occasions when gardaí called to the property to ensure he was complying with the residency and curfew conditions of the bail granted last May nobody answered the calls to the door.

Her client was arrested on Sunday on foot of a bench warrant granted to gardaí last Thursday allowing for him to be arrested and taken before the courts due to the breaches of his bail. The warrant was executed at the Central Criminal Court on Monday and the man was remanded in custody. He appeared on Tuesday before the High Court which said the revocation of his bail was justified despite the man’s plea to be granted bail again, and on less restrictive conditions.