Thurles District Court
A Thurles man was given a six-month suspended jail sentence for brandishing a slash hook in Liberty Square, Thurles.
Judge Elizabeth MacGrath heard how Noel Dunne, with an address of Seskin, Thurles, went to Ladbrokes in Thurles on May 16 last year.
Mr Dunne said he met another man in the bookies, who asked what Mr Dunne was “up to.” “I said I was going up the road,” Mr Dunne told the court.
Mr Dunne said he kept a slash hook in his car for clearing vegetation, along with his work clothes. Mr Dunne was stopped by gardaí, who engaged him in conversation.
Garda David Carey found a slash hook in the car. Mr Dunne told the garda he was “putting a gate up” and he kept tools and other builders’ items in the car for that purpose. “I have to cut briars back,” Mr Dunne told Insp James White. “I don’t carry it around all the time.”
Mr Dunne had told the man in Ladbrokes he was going out to “widen ditches.”
Insp White put it to Mr Dunne that he removed the slash hook from his car in Liberty Square and produced it in public in a “threatening and intimidating manner.”
Insp White put it to Mr Dunne that he had taken offence from the man in Ladbrokes and produced the slash hook as a threat. “You said he was sneering at you. You took it upon yourself to produce that slash hook in a threatening manner because of a perceived insult or sneer towards you.”
Solicitor Padraig DeBurca said the prosecution had chosen not to call the person alleged to have been intimidated before the court. There was no evidence of a threat, said Mr DeBurca.
Mr Dunne had met the man, who asked him what he was doing. Mr Dunne showed the man the slash hook as he didn’t believe Mr Dunne, maintained Mr DeBurca.
Judge MacGrath said she has read the legislation, and it’s “quite clear he did have a bill hook in public in Liberty Square. That has been established by the prosecution.”
Judge MacGrath said she did not accept the defence that was given, and convicted Mr Dunne of having “an article… which had a blade or which was sharply pointed” in public.
Mr Dunne has 45 previous convictions, including for producing an article during the course of a dispute, and knife possession.
Judge MacGrath said she had to consider a custodial sentence in the matter, given his prior convictions.
Judge MacGrath said she would impose a 6-month prison sentence, suspended for two years on condition that Mr Dunne enter into a Section 99 bond, his own bond of €500.
Judge MacGrath said: “I want to make it very clear to Mr Dunne that if he commits any offence within that period, he will face that custodial sentence.”