A Kilmovee man was jailed for three years for intimidation against a witness after he threatened to burn his elderly mother out of her home unless he withdrew a complaint against him.
Patrick Higgins (33) with an address at Uggool, Kilmovee, Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon pleaded guilty at Castlebar Circuit Court to the charge of intimidation against a man who he had previously assaulted in a Swinford shop.
The incident of intimidation occurred on December 22, 2010 when the witness was in a Swinford pub with a friend at 9.30pm, and was followed into the toilet by Mr Higgins. He told the witness that it would be in his interest to drop the charges or else he would burn his elderly mother who lived alone out of her home.
The publican heard the shouting in the toilets and ejected Mr Higgins from the pub but he continued to roar at the witness. Mr James Dwyer, counsel for the State explained that the witness was intimidated by what happened and reported the incident to the gardaí.
The incident followed an incident in August 2010, when Mr Higgins met the victim on the street in Swinford and hurled a torrent of abuse at him. He followed him into a shop and struck him in the face resulting in blood pumping from his nose.
In a victim impact statement which was read out in court, the victim said he feared for his life and fears he will be killed by Mr Higgins.
Mr Higgins has a previous conviction for threatening to kill and cause serious harm and received a two year suspended sentence in 2007. However the sentence was enforced in June 2008 when he failed to abide by the conditions of the suspended sentence.
Mr Desmond Dockery, BL for Mr Higgins said his client had pleaded guilty to all the charges involving the victim and explained that he suffered from mental illnesses.
He said he has been sober for over a year and added that he was receiving counselling and asked the judge to bear in mind that these may not be available if he is sent to prison.
In sentencing Mr Higgins, Judge Thomas E O’Donnell said a clear message must be sent out to people who intimidate witnesses and they must bear the responsibility for their actions.
He imposed a three year sentence but suspended the last 18 months on the condition he stays away from the victim, his family and property for five years post release.
He also directed that Mr Higgins receive the necessary medical treatment while in custody and directed he co-operate with the probation service for 18 months post release.