Man sentenced for breaking windows at west Kerry Garda station

Businessman smashed dozens of panes but claimed he had a “lawful excuse” to do it

A 53-year-old former business man who arrived with a hammer to a garda station in west Kerry in broad daylight and broke almost every pane of glass in the station front claimed he had lawful excuse to do so.

A 53-year-old former business man who arrived with a hammer to a Garda station in west Kerry in broad daylight and broke almost every pane of glass in the station front claimed today he had lawful excuse to do so.

Noel O'Murchu of , Finnegan's Hostel, Denny Street, Tralee, a former owner of a chain of mobile phone shops, denied the charge of criminal damage at Castlegregory Garda station on June 2nd 2012.

He also pleaded not guilty to assaulting detective Garda James Hurley when arrested in the early hours of that day under Public Order Act in the seaside village. He was sentenced to a total of eleven months in jail but will appeal the conviction.

Video footage of the station's close circuit television was projected onto the wall of the Killarney Courthouse at yesterday's day long hearing of the case. It showed O'Murchu walk purposefully up to the 1920s style blue two storey building in well-known holiday village at 1 pm with a hammer in his hand. O’Murchu proceeded to smash the window and door glass, returning to some of the windows to deliver more heavy blows apparently to make sure the small panes were broken.

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It had cost €2,300 to replace the glass, Supt Flor Murphy told the court. The building had posed no threat to O'Murchu, the Supt said.

Mr O'Murchu told Judge Leo Malone he would not pay compensation. At one point O'Murchu corrected his own barrister, Brian McInerney to say the number of panes of glass he smashed was "thirty-three" not thirty one as the barrister suggested. The court heard there were 34 panes of glass in all in the front of the building - O Murchu broke all but one of them.

Mr O'Murchú said he had been "tortured" by gardai - Garda Nina Long of Castlegregory and Det James Hurley of Tralee who had arrested him earlier in the day under the Public Order Act, and brought to Tralee but had released him without charge some hours later.He claimed the gardai had leaned on his thumbs and he was afraid the whole matter would be brushed under the carpet. He also claimed that he was being vicitimised by gardai for the past decade.

"I won't pay compensation because I did it to protect myself and other members of the public," he told Judge Leo Malone.

Gardai denied ill-treating O'Murchú when they arrested him but said they were forced to order a paddy wagon from Tralee, a 20 minute journey, after it became unsafe to have him in the back of a patrol car.

He had been arrested in the early hours under the Public Order Act after telling Garda Long to f**k off repeatedly when she approached him about drinking from a bottle of vodka on the street in Castlegregory. He called the gardai "Free State bastards" and abused them repeatedly, a number of garda witnesses said.

Mr O'Murchu had a variety of previous convictions . In November he was convicted by majority verdict at the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee of stealing a bottle of perfume - Mademoiselle by Coco Chanel - from Debenham's in Tralee. The trial had run for four days.

His barrister Brian McInerney said Mr O'Murchu, once a successful businessman, had been involved in costly and lengthy legal action with Vodafone to the higher courts and he had been under strain.

Judge Leo Malone convicted on both counts and sentenced O Murchy to a total of eleven months in jail - seven for the damage to the Garda station and four for the assault on the detective.

The judge imposed strict conditions while he appeals the sentence, including curfew, daily signing on at Tralee Garda Station and " not to go west of Keane's Bar at Curaheen on the Dingle Peninsula."