Judge Elizabeth MacGrath: convicted couple of using crutch as an offensive weapon
A couple who “went into attack mode” following alleged provocation have been bound to the peace by Nenagh Court.
Brian Shanahan and Alison Stone of 33 Sarsfield Street, Nenagh, pleaded not guilty to production of an article and possession of an article contrary to the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, and threatening and abusive behaviour at Silver Street, Nenagh, on February 15, 2019.
Det Garda Stuart Beattie told the court that he and Det Garda Paudie O’Leary met Mr Shanahan and Ms Stone outside 33 Sarsfield Street, where they lived, and they both appeared to be agitated. They said Ms Stone had been assaulted.
They said they had gone to visit Mr Shanahan’s brother, Joe, at his apartment on Silver Street, and three people had assaulted them.
Mr Shanahan had a piece of the leg of a chair or table which he said had been broken over the head of Ms Stone
Ms Stone complained of feeling unwell and dizzy and an ambulance had been called.
Though she claimed she had been struck over the head and shoulder, Garda Beattie said he did not note any significant injuries.
Ms Stone had the upper part of a crutch and the bottom part was missing. Garda Beattie took possession of the crutch and it was indicated to him that the missing part was in the house on Silver Street.
He and Garda O’Leary went to the house on Silver Street and spoke to the three occupants who alleged they had been assaulted by Mr Shanahan and Ms Stone.
One of the occupants had a cut above his lip, blood around his mouth, his left eye was swollen and swelling on the side of his head.
The three occupants were invited to make a statement but declined to do so.
He and Garda O’Leary noticed the bottom part of the crutch in the hallway and took possession of it.
That evening Mr Shanahan made a statement at the garda station in which he said that he and Ms Stone, who he described as his “saviour”, had gone to visit his brother Joe.
Ms Stone was using a crutch as she had injured her leg while celebrating on New Year’s Eve.
He said when he arrived at his brother’s apartment he tapped on the apartment window and stepped back on to the street.
He noticed two people who he recognised look out the window of the apartment above his brother’s and then a third person who he didn’t recognise.
“I could hear one them saying: ‘That’s the rat at the door’,” he said. “I told him to shut his f***ing mouth.”
Mr Shanahan stated that the three occupants tried to drag Ms Stone into the house.
“I grabbed the crutch and slipped the bottom part. I was kicked in the stomach,” he said.
Mr Shanahan said that Ms Stone gave one of the others a “few belts of the crutch”.
He said the part of the crutch he had was grabbed from him and after the three others went back into the house he and Ms Stone went home and called the gardaí.
Under cross-examination by Liz McKeever, solicitor for both defendants, Garda Beattie said he was aware of the “rat” allegation as Ms Stone had been a State witness in a court case around that time and had received a lot of intimidation for giving evidence.
Garda O’Leary said that he took notes of a conversation he had with Ms Stone on the day in which she said the three men had tried to grab her and she feared she was going to be dragged into the house and killed.
She alleged that she was told she had “better not show her face in court” or her house would be burned down.
She alleged she had been hit three or four times over the head with the leg of a table.
Garda O’Leary said that he viewed CCTV coverage from the town council’s cameras and noted the complaint by Mr Shanahan and Ms Stone “did not tally” with what had happened
He asked Ms Stone to make a statement and view the CCTV but she declined. However, she did view it later and while she made no comment on the footage, she said she had been defending herself and her partner.
She said she was scared to leave her home and was being victimised and bullied.
Ms Stone admitted she had loosened the crutch in case she needed to protect herself.
Garda O’Leary told Ms McKeever that there was no CCTV available from directly across from the scene that would show what was happening.
Ms Stone, in her direct evidence, said they had gone to Silver Street because they were concerned about Mr Shanahan’s brother.
Herself and Mr Shanahan had stepped back on to the street because there were threats coming from the three occupants of the upstairs apartment.
“They opened the door and were shouting: ‘We'll cut her throat. Get her in’,” she said.
Ms Stone believed there were six other CCTV cameras in the area and not just the one shown in court.
Cross-examined by Insp Amanda Reynolds, Ms Stone accepted the alleged assault on her was not on the CCTV, but she didn’t accept the CCTV footage.
When it was put to her that the CCTV showed Mr Shanahan gesturing to the upstairs apartment and she had responded in a threatening and abusive manner, Ms Stone said: “I let myself and my family down by responding. I used the crutch to defend myself because I'm in fear of my life.”
In his evidence, Mr Shanahan said that when he arrived at his brother’s apartment, someone called his name.
“They were screaming ‘rat, junkies’, so naturally I stood back,” he said.
Mr Shanahan described how he could hear what they were saying through the front door because some of the glass paneling was broken.
“They don’t have a door. It’s like Narnia and the wardrobe. You walk through to a magical world,” he said.
Mr Shanahan also said he believed there were “six or seven” other cameras whose footage could have been used, and there was evidence he had been assaulted.
In her submission, Ms McKeever said that both defendants said they had been defending themselves.
“They didn’t go there with the intention of carrying out an assault,” she said.
In relation to threatening and abusive behaviour, Ms McKeever said her clients had used the “f-word” shouting back at the people who were threatening them.
However, Insp Reynolds said both defendants had acknowledged they had split the crutch in half and it was evident from the CCTV that their behaviour had been abusive.
Judge Elizabeth MacGrath said the evidence did not tally with what was on the CCTV.
It clearly showed they were reacting to upstairs but what was being said could not be heard and there was no sign of physical aggression from those inside the house, she said.
“What can be seen is Mr Shanahan and Ms Stone were in attack mode, not defensive mode and they did not walk away. Mr Shanahan asked for half of the crutch before the other parties came out,” she said.
“They may have been in defensive mode going there, but they went into attack mode. The other parties did not pursue them,” she said, convicting both defendants.
Ms McKeever said her clients were now drug free and both hoped to go to college.
Ms Stone wanted to work helping people with addictions and if she got a conviction she would not be able to do so for five years, said Ms McKeever.
“They are not leading a life of addiction,” she said.
Judge MacGrath said she noted that there was no statement of complaint by the victims, and that there appeared to be a history between the parties.
“Ms Stone seems to have suffered because of giving evidence in a case. She is now on the road to recovery,” said Judge MacGrath.
She placed both defendants on a 12-month peace bond of €200 each and set recognizance in their own bonds of €250.