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Judge rules facts proven against Leitrim man in verbal abuse case

Caused criminal damage during Dundalk burglary


A Dromahair man was ordered to have no contact with the Dowdican family after the facts were marked proven in a case of threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour heard before Manorhamilton District Court.
Michael Kivlehan, Friarstown, Dromahair faced the charge relating to an incident at Main Street, Dromahair on February 3, 2020.
Taking the stand Sarah Dowdican said four years ago she had been pregnant with her second child and had been in a lot of pain. She was driving and waiting for a doctor to return her call when Mr Kivlehan drove up behind her in his jeep.
She said she indicated to pull in to take the call from the doctor and Mr Kivlehan began shouting at her before driving off.
She also detailed allegations of two subsequent incidents involving the defendant that had occurred at the school attended by her daughter and Mr Kivlehan's son. She acknowledged that she had not reported these incidents as she didn’t “want the hassle”.
Referring to the matter before the court, Ms Dowdican said that on February 3 last year she had driven to the shop, parking her vehicle outside. She and her youngest child both walked to the front entrance of the shop but as she did so she heard a voice shout “you fat tramp” at her.
She said that she had continued into the shop but had been so distressed that staff had to comfort her.
She said she believed that the person who called out was Mr Kivlehan and identified him in court.
Mr Kivlehan’s solicitor, Mark Mullaney, said that his client would say that any aggression between Mr Kivlehan and the Dowdicans “is all coming from (Ms Dowdican's) side”.
He said that Ms Dowdican “did a u-turn on the road (in front of Mr Kivlehan) nearly causing an accident” in 2017.
He told Ms Dowdican “your family threatened (Mr Kivlehan) after this incident and intimidated him” however Ms Dowdican denied this.
Mr Mullaney said that Ms Dowdican’s sister had visited Mr Kivlehan’s home after the initial incident in 2017 and had “given him a piece of her mind”. He also said that Ms Dowdican's father had approached his client when he was painting his home and “remonstrated with him”.
However Ms Dowdican said that she knew nothing about these allegations.
When it was put to Ms Dowdican that she was painting Mr Kivlehan in a “very poor light” she stressed “I am not lying. I went into the shop and I was crying. It is on the CCTV”.
She said that she had identified Mr Kivlehan's jeep outside of the shop on the date in question, but didn't notice him inside and “got a fright” when she heard the shouted insult.
She admitted that she didn't see Mr Kivlehan open the door of his vehicle and didn't see the window down but stressed that “there was no one else around”.
Gda Conor McDonagh said that he investigated the incident on February 3 and detailed viewing the CCTV from outside the shop which showed a dark coloured jeep outside and also showed Ms Dowdican's vehicle driving past and then parking. Two vehicles had initially been between these vehicles but these moved off and Ms Dowdican and her child were the only ones on the street next to the jeep.
He said there was no interaction noted between Ms Dowdican and the person in the jeep on the CCTV and the jeep moved away a short time later.
He said the window on the jeep was closed in the CCTV footage and Mr Mullaney put it to him that Ms Dowdican had not reacted on CCTV as if anyone had called out an insult to her.
“Everyone will react in a different way but from my observation there was no reaction (from Ms Dowdican) whatsoever,” acknowledged the garda.
Gda Flannery then gave evidence of attending Mr Kivlehan's address to get a statement in May 2020.
He said he introduced himself and began explaining the situation regarding the allegation against Mr Kivlehan and the defendant “became very agitated and defensive”. As the garda tried to explain the matter to him he said Mr Kivlehan accused gardai of harassing him.
He invited Gda Flannery into the back yard to further discuss the matter but the garda refused as there was a dog present.
“I invited him to move to the front street to the garda car where we could socially distance and he could make a statement but he said I was harassing him and would make up stories,” said the garda. “He said he would contact the Superintendent about this harassment and would contact his solicitor”.
Gda Flannery said he “attempted several times” to speak with the defendant and had “given him every opportunity to make a statement” including offering him the chance to come to the garda station at a time which suited the defendant, but he refused.
Mr Mullaney applied for direction in the matter saying there was no direct evidence his client had abused Ms Dowdican adding the window had been closed on the jeep on the date in question.
However Judge Kevin Kilrane said his client had a case to answer as there was “no one else there” on the street and this had been confirmed by the CCTV.
Taking the stand, Mr Kivlehan denied that he had verbally abused Ms Dowdican. He also denied any other allegations insisting that Ms Dowdican's family were intimidating him.
Referring to the initial incident four years ago Mr Kivlehan said that Ms Dowdican's car had been driving at 20 miles an hour and he had been travelling patiently behind it.
He said that she performed a manoeuvre and he had to “put his front wheel into the ditch” to avoid an accident.
He said Ms Dowdican then parked and he stopped and gave her “a blast of the horn” but “she was on the phone and wouldn't acknowledge me” before he drove off.
He said Ms Dowdican's sister had come to his house giving “a torrent of abuse” before she slapped and kicked the door. He called gardai for assistance as he was concerned for his son who was only five at the time.
After this he was sandblasting railings on his home and Ms Dowdican's father, approached. He couldn't remember the conversation but had felt intimidated and gathered his tools and went inside.
Mr Kivlehan said he had made complaints against other members of Ms Dowdican's family but nothing was done.
He said when Gda Flannery attended his property in May 2020 with another garda he “tried in vain” to explain the allegations were false.
He claimed Gda Flannery had threatened to take his child and said that he had been advised “strongly not to go with gardai” by his solicitor. He described the allegations against him as “all lies, it's a character assassination”.
He claimed that Gda Flannery had arrived on his property and “he refused to tell me what for” and “all he wanted to do was to take me away in a squad car”. He denied being aggressive saying he was “friendly enough” towards Gda Flannery.
Mr Kivlehan said that he had to change collection times for his son at school in order to avoid meeting Ms Dowdican and said he would never use any abusive language, especially to a woman.
Judge Kilrane said “this matter is a swearing match between the defendant and the witness.”
Noting the allegations about a “road rage” incident in 2017, the judge said that it was difficult to believe the defendant’s claim that Ms Dowdican had been driving in an erratic manner and he had to swing his vehicle to avoid a collision “if she was only driving at 20 miles an hour”.
He said he did not believe the defendant in his description of that event and he did believe the witness's claim that Mr Kivlehan had “shouted at her in a road rage manner”.
Judge Kilrane noted that this incident seemed to have led to a “downhill spiral” in relations between the two parties adding that he found the evidence of the defendant about incidents since the first encounter as being “exaggerated in the extreme”.
He said he believed that Mr Kivlehan had been “making up some of that in the witness box” adding some of his evidence, such as the allegations that his door had been kicked, were never raised by his solicitor and not put to the witness, Ms Dowdican.
“The defendant has presented himself as a reasonable individual but his interview with Gda Flannery is telling,” added the judge.
“(Mr Kivlehan) makes the most outrageous accusations against this garda. That the garda effectively told him that he’d come to arrest him and have his child removed. This is something that did not happen and the defendant knows that it did not happen.
“The attitude of the defendant today is that of a person who is very reasonable, law abiding, a live and let live person,” noted Judge Kilrane. “But what was indicated by the evidence of Gda Flannery is of a truculent, aggressive person who is not at all reasonable”.
Judge Kilrane said bearing all this in mind he could not believe Mr Kivlehan’s account of what happened on February 3, 2020.
He found the facts proven and applied the Probation Act section 1, subsection 2. A condition of the bond is Mr Kivlehan have no contact with the Dowdican family.

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