A Jamestown man appeared at Carrick-on-Shannon District Court charged with criminal damage by striking the bonnet of another man’s jeep with his fist and causing €640 in damage.
Michael Gilbane, Tully, Jamestown, Co Leitrim, is charged with criminal damage of a jeep belonging to Patrick Gilbane Jnr at Tully, Jamestown on June 27, 2020.
Garda McGowan said on that date he received a report from Patrick Gilbane in relation to damage to his jeep. Patrick Gilbane said he was driving his Toyota Hilux jeep on a narrow road in Tully when he met a vehicle coming towards him being driven by Michael Gilbane.
He pulled in to let the vehicle pass and he (Michael Gilbane) couldn’t get past him on the road.
The men exchanged words and had an argument and Michael Gilbane struck the bonnet of the jeep twice causing damage. An estimate for repairs to the jeep totalled €640.
On September 14, 2020, Garda McGowan met with Michael Gilbane and he made a statement under caution. He said he was coming up the road and had to stop as a jeep was blocking his entrance and he couldn’t get across.
Michael Gilbane said they had words and stated that he had hit the bonnet of the jeep and may have caused the damage that was shown to him in photos.
Patrick Gilbane, in his evidence, said he was going into Carrick-on-Shannon on that date and was driving towards the N4. He met Michael Gilbane and he pulled into the left hand side to let him by.
He said Michael Gilbane had room to pass him but he stopped and started shouting at him that he would “sort him out” and hit the jeep twice with his fist.
He said Michael Gilbane was very aggressive towards him and reached back to get what looked like the handle of a shovel or a grape and said to him ‘I’ll batter your head in’ and then slammed in the wing mirror and drove off.
In reply to Inspector Emmet Treacy, Patrick Gilbane said he didn’t get out of the jeep. He said the dents are still in the bonnet. He repeated that the two vehicles could have passed each other.
In cross examination by solicitor for Michael Gilbane, Niamh McGovern, he said he lives about three quarters of a mile from Michael Gilbane.
Photographs of the road were shown in court and Ms McGovern put it to him that he was preventing Michael Gilbane from entering his yard by coming over onto Michael Gilbane’s side and preventing him from turning in.
Patrick Gilbane said that wasn’t the case as he was pulled in past the entrance as far as he could and wasn’t blocking him and asked how then did Michael Gilbane get past him?
Ms McGovern said to him that he had “ample space to pull in if you wanted to”.
She said this has been going on a long time between them. Patrick Gilbane said it had not been going on between him and Michael Gilbane but by his family (Patrick’s) and Michael Gilbane.
She put it to him that Michael Gilbane admitted to hitting the bonnet and had to do it to try and get him to move.
Patrick Gilbane said he was the one who had pulled in and it was Michael Gilbane who drove up alongside him.
Ms McGovern put it to Patrick Gilbane that he had caused this as he had wanted to annoy Michael Gilbane so he would strike the vehicle.
Patrick Gilbane said that was not a reason to strike anything.
She said the quotation was from Simons Smart Repairs and she asked why he had not got the jeep repaired yet. Patrick Gilbane said he was waiting to see the outcome of the case.
Ms McGovern said Michael Gilbane absolutely denied that he took the handle of a shovel or grape out. He would say there was some sort of handle in the jeep but he never went near it.
She said her client would say Patrick Gilbane was the perpetrator in this and knew he was going into his yard and saw the opportunity to prevent him and he had no other option.
Patrick Gilbane said he was only telling the truth and didn’t want any hassle.
Michael Gilbane, in his evidence, told the court he would say exactly what he had said in his statement to the Gardai, that he was driving up the road and was going to turn in to the right.
He said Patrick Gilbane could easily have pulled up two or three yards back and let him go across, or he could have continued on if he wanted to.
He said Patrick Gilbane put half his jeep past him, and he could have put the other half past him as well and gone on about his business and there would have been no hassle.
Michael Gilbane said that most of Patrick Gilbane’s statement was lies and the accusation that he had taken out a handle of a grape was another lie. He said he didn’t have a grape handle.
Inspector Treacy put it to him that in his statement Michael Gilbane did say that he had hit the jeep and might have caused damage. He agreed that he did hit the jeep with his fist.
Asked if he thought it was acceptable behaviour to hit people’s vehicles, he said no, but added that if someone was blocking your gateway and laughing out the window at you, then it was “quite acceptable” and he had no other option.
Ms McGovern raised the issue of the charge Michael Gilbane is charged with under the Criminal Damage Act 1991.
She asked Judge Denis McLoughlin to consider whether Michael Gilbane had a defence of ‘lawful excuse’ and whether his belief was honestly held and this was the only thing he could do.
Judge McLoughlin said there was contradictory evidence in the case and he accepted the version of events given by the injured party.
He said by accepting that evidence he was satisfied the defendant had no lawful excuse to inflict the damage to the vehicle. He said the defendant admitted to intentionally committing the damage and on that basis he would convict him.
Ms McGovern said Michael Gilbane is a farmer with a blemish free record and she asked the judge to be as lenient as possible.
She said that given his record and if the damage was paid would the court deal with the matter in a certain way
Judge McLoughlin said he probably would and put the matter back to June 15 for mention and said he would finalise it when he next sits in Carrick-on-Shannon.
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