A case of criminal damage of three panes of a window brought against a Mohill man were dismissed by Judge Kevin Kilrane who described the property where the damage occurred as “the house from hell.”
Garda evidence detailed how an investigation was carried out to the damage at 20 O'Carolan Court, Mohill on July 30, 2018.
In a written statement one of the residents of the property, Annie Lupton, claimed the damage had occurred and she had looked out the window and saw the defendant, John Heslin of 20 Cappagh, Mohill walking away with a metal bar in his hand. She subsequently made a complaint to gardai.
Gardai interviewed Mr Heslin and the memorandum of the interview taken was read into the court. In this Mr Heslin denied smashing the window on the night in question. He did admit to breaking a window in the house previously adding there “is a history, there is bad blood”.
Mr Heslin said that on the night of July 30, 2018 he had visited the home of the mother of one of his children, Ms O'Connell, at around 8.30pm. It was noted that he had interrupted her viewing of the Love Island final and it was “after 11pm” when he left this property.
Taking the stand Ms Lupton said that she and her partner, Michael Whearty, had been in the kitchen sitting at the table when they heard a noise and went into the hall. Here they met Michael's mother who had been in the living room on the couch near the window, when it was broken. Ms Lupton said she and Mr Whearty went to the window and opened the curtains and saw Mr Heslin walking down the street.
The door was then opened by Mr Whearty and Mr Heslin was seen walking away with a iron bar in his hand.
Mr Heslin's solicitor, John McNulty, noted there were a number of discrepancies between Ms Lupton's statement to gardai and what she told in her evidence to the court.
Ms Lupton said that Mr Heslin was the father of one of her children and admitted she had a “grievance with Mr Heslin” however she denied that she would ever make a false complaint against him.
Mr McNulty accused Ms Lupton of offering a number of different versions of what happened to gardai. He also noted that Ms Lupton had made other allegations dating to July 25, 2018 at this property where she told gardai that men in balaclavas had been seen outside, that they went away but later returned with iron bars - “How do we know these men aren't the ones responsible for breaking your window?” he asked Ms Lupton.
He said that there had been a prosecution but Ms Lupton had entered the witness box in relation to this and withdrew the complaint stating these men had done nothing.
Ms Lupton acknowledged the incident where there had been men outside of her house wearing balaclavas but said that “they did not break my windows”.
Mr McNulty said that this history brought up questions about the credibility of Ms Lupton as a witness.
He also said that the other witness who identified his client as the one who broke the window, Mr Whearty, had never given a statement to gardai on what happened that night.
Judge Kilrane observed “the State can just about crawl across the line” in relation to this prosecution.
However he said he had “a number of problems with the credibility” of Ms Lupton which was further compounded by the absence of any statement or appearance by Mr Whearty.
He also noted the absence the only other person who could corroborate Mr Heslin's alibi from court proceedings did not help matters.
Taking the stand, Mr Heslin insisted he had been at Ms O'Connell's home on the night in question.
He said that previously he had broken a window of Ms Lupton's adding, “I would be lying if I said I was remorseful about it,” but he denied breaking the window in July 2018.
Judge Kilrane noted that the case was a matter of one person's word against another's.
“Mr Whearty is an alleged witness on the night in question. He saw what happened, why isn't he here and why didn't he make a statement?” asked Judge Kilrane.
“Ms O'Connell can verify the version given by Mr Heslin but she isn't here either”.
He said that despite all this, Mr Heslin's evidence was more credible. He noted that “20 O'Carolan Court appears to be the house from hell.
“If anything I accept Mr Heslin's version of events over and above Ms Lupton's evidence. Her credibility is seriously at question,” he said.
He said he had a doubt in relation to this and had no option but to dismiss the matter.
“I sympathise with gardai trying to make sense of this, there are wheels within wheels,” he admitted.
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